Research Article

Marine Radiocarbon Evidence for the Mechanism of Deglacial Atmospheric CO2 Rise

Science  08 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5830, pp. 1456-1459
DOI: 10.1126/science.1138679

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Abstract

We reconstructed the radiocarbon activity of intermediate waters in the eastern North Pacific over the past 38,000 years. Radiocarbon activity paralleled that of the atmosphere, except during deglaciation, when intermediate-water values fell by more than 300 per mil. Such a large decrease requires a deglacial injection of very old waters from a deep-ocean carbon reservoir that was previously well isolated from the atmosphere. The timing of intermediate-water radiocarbon depletion closely matches that of atmospheric carbon dioxide rise and effectively traces the redistribution of carbon from the deep ocean to the atmosphere during deglaciation.

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