Isotopic Evidence for Reduced Productivity in the Glacial Southern Ocean

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Science  15 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5132, pp. 407-410
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5132.407


Records of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in biogenic silica and carbon isotopes in planktonic foraminifera from deep-sea sediment cores from the Southern Ocean reveal that the primary production during the last glacial maximum was lower than Holocene productivity. These observations conflict with the hypothesis that the low atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were introduced by an increase in the efficiency of the high-latitude biological pump. Instead, different oceanic sectors may have had high glacial productivity, or alternative mechanisms that do not involve the biological pump must be considered as the primary cause of the low glacial atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.