In fact, the natural production of radiocarbon has varied as well.

carbon dating and its effects-23

The lower the amount of radiocarbon, the older the object.

But big changes in the atmosphere can throw off this method, like releasing tons of extra carbon dioxide into the air from burning fossil fuels.

Ocean corals, dated by another radiometric method - Uranium-Thorium dating - have also helped to extend the calibration curve beyond the age of the most ancient treering chronologies.

A., Kromer, B., Mc Cormac, G., van der Plicht, J., Spurk, M. INTCAL98 radiocarbon age calibration, 24,000-0 cal BP.

These techniques are made possible by sensitive electronic instruments developed in the late twentieth century. A computer program for radiocarbon age calibration.

Both methods rely on the ongoing production of radiocarbon in the upper atmosphere.

Radiocarbon dating has been helping put the planet’s history in the right order since it was first invented in the 1940s, giving scientists a key way to determine the age of artifacts like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.

Thanks to fossil fuel emissions, though, the method used to date these famous artifacts may be in for a change.

The amount of carbon-14 in living plants and animals matches the amount in the atmosphere, but when plants and animals die, they no longer absorb carbon-14.