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Radiocarbon constraints on the glacial ocean circulation and its impact on atmospheric CO2


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Skinner, LC, Primeau, F, Freeman, E, de La Fuente, M, Goodwin, PA, Gottschalk, J, Huang, E, McCave, IN, Noble, TL ORCID: 0000-0002-5708-751X and Scrivner, AE 2017 , 'Radiocarbon constraints on the glacial ocean circulation and its impact on atmospheric CO2' , Nature Communications, vol. 8 , pp. 1-10 , doi: 10.1038/ncomms16010.

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While the ocean’s large-scale overturning circulation is thought to have been significantly different under the climatic conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the exact nature of the glacial circulation and its implications for global carbon cycling continue to be debated. Here we use a global array of ocean–atmosphere radiocarbon disequilibrium estimates to demonstrate a ∼689±53 14C-yr increase in the average residence time of carbon in the deep ocean at the LGM. A predominantly southern-sourced abyssal overturning limb that was more isolated from its shallower northern counterparts is interpreted to have extended from the Southern Ocean, producing a widespread radiocarbon age maximum at mid-depths and depriving the deep ocean of a fast escape route for accumulating respired carbon. While the exact magnitude of the resulting carbon cycle impacts remains to be confirmed, the radiocarbon data suggest an increase in the efficiency of the biological carbon pump that could have accounted for as much as half of the glacial–interglacial CO2 change.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Skinner, LC and Primeau, F and Freeman, E and de La Fuente, M and Goodwin, PA and Gottschalk, J and Huang, E and McCave, IN and Noble, TL and Scrivner, AE
Keywords: carbon cycle, palaeoceanography, physical oceanography
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Communications
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2041-1723
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/ncomms16010
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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