A 23,000-Year Record of Surface Water pH and PCO2 in the Western Equatorial Pacific Ocean

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Science  18 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5618, pp. 480-482
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080796

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The oceans play a major role in defining atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, and although the geographical distribution of CO2 uptake and release in the modern ocean is understood, little is known about past distributions. Boron isotope studies of planktonic foraminifera from the western equatorial Pacific show that this area was a strong source of CO2 to the atmosphere between approximately 13,800 and 15,600 years ago. This observation is most compatible with increased frequency of La Niña conditions during this interval. Hence, increased upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific may have played an important role in the rise in atmospheric CO2 during the last deglaciation.

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