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Biological and physical controls in the Southern Ocean on past millennial-scale atmospheric CO2 changes
Gottschalk, J.; Skinner, L.C.; Lippold, J.; Vogel, H.; Frank, N.; Jaccard, S.L.; Waelbroeck, C. (2016). Biological and physical controls in the Southern Ocean on past millennial-scale atmospheric CO2 changes. Nature Comm. 7(11539): 11 pp.
In: Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2041-1723; e-ISSN 2041-1723, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Gottschalk, J.
  • Skinner, L.C.
  • Lippold, J.
  • Vogel, H.
  • Frank, N.
  • Jaccard, S.L.
  • Waelbroeck, C.

    Millennial-scale climate changes during the last glacial period and deglaciation were accompanied by rapid changes in atmospheric CO2 that remain unexplained. While the role of the Southern Ocean as a ' control valve' on ocean-atmosphere CO2 exchange has been emphasized, the exact nature of this role, in particular the relative contributions of physical (for example, ocean dynamics and air-sea gas exchange) versus biological processes (for example, export productivity), remains poorly constrained. Here we combine reconstructions of bottom-water [O-2], export production and 14C ventilation ages in the sub-Antarctic Atlantic, and show that atmospheric CO2 pulses during the last glacial-and deglacial periods were consistently accompanied by decreases in the biological export of carbon and increases in deep-ocean ventilation via southern-sourced water masses. These findings demonstrate how the Southern Ocean's 'organic carbon pump' has exerted a tight control on atmospheric CO2, and thus global climate, specifically via a synergy of both physical and biological processes.

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