Multiple carbon cycle mechanisms associated with the glaciation of Marine Isotope Stage 4

Here we use high-precision carbon isotope data (δ13C-CO2) to show atmospheric CO2 during Marine Isotope Stage 4 (MIS 4, ~70.5-59 ka) was controlled by a succession of millennial-scale processes. Enriched δ13C-CO2 during peak glaciation suggests increased ocean carbon storage. Variations in δ13C-CO2 in early MIS 4 suggest multiple processes were active during CO2 drawdown, potentially including decreased land carbon and decreased Southern Ocean air-sea gas exchange superposed on increased ocean carbon storage. CO2 remained low during MIS 4 while δ13C-CO2 fluctuations suggest changes in Southern Ocean and North Atlantic air-sea gas exchange. A 7 ppm increase in CO2 at the onset of Dansgaard-Oeschger event 19 (72.1 ka) and 27 ppm increase in CO2 during late MIS 4 (Heinrich Stadial 6, ~63.5-60 ka) involved additions of isotopically light carbon to the atmosphere. The terrestrial biosphere and Southern Ocean air-sea gas exchange are possible sources, with the latter event also involving decreased ocean carbon storage.


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Authors: Menking, James A., Shackleton, Sarah A., Bauska, Thomas K. ORCIDORCID record for Thomas K. Bauska, Buffen, Aron M., Brook, Edward J., Barker, Stephen, Severinghaus, Jeffrey P., Dyonisius, Michael N., Petrenko, Vasilii V.

On this site: Thomas Bauska
16 September, 2022
Nature Communications / 13
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