Holocene dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds and possible links to CO2 outgassing

The Southern Hemisphere westerly winds (SHW) play an important role in regulating the capacity of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. They modulate upwelling of carbon-rich deep water and, with sea ice, determine the ocean surface area available for air–sea gas exchange. Some models indicate that the current strengthening and poleward shift of these winds will weaken the carbon sink. If correct, centennial- to millennial-scale reconstructions of the SHW intensity should be linked with past changes in atmospheric CO2, temperature and sea ice. Here we present a 12,300-year reconstruction of wind strength based on three independent proxies that track inputs of sea-salt aerosols and minerogenic particles accumulating in lake sediments on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Between about 12.1 thousand years ago (ka) and 11.2 ka, and since about 7 ka, the wind intensities were above their long-term mean and corresponded with increasing atmospheric CO2. Conversely, from about 11.2 to 7.2 ka, the wind intensities were below their long-term mean and corresponded with decreasing atmospheric CO2. These observations are consistent with model inferences of enhanced SHW contributing to the long-term outgassing of CO2 from the Southern Ocean.


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Authors: Saunders, Krystyna M., Roberts, Stephen J. ORCIDORCID record for Stephen J. Roberts, Perren, Bianca ORCIDORCID record for Bianca Perren, Butz, Christoph, Sime, Louise ORCIDORCID record for Louise Sime, Davies, Sarah, Van Nieuwenhuyze, Wim, Grosjean, Martin, Hodgson, Dominic A. ORCIDORCID record for Dominic A. Hodgson

On this site: Bianca Perren, Dominic Hodgson, Louise Sime, Stephen Roberts
23 July, 2018
Nature Geoscience / 11
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