Loss of Carbon from the Deep Sea Since the Last Glacial Maximum

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Science  19 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6007, pp. 1084-1087
DOI: 10.1126/science.1193221

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Deep-ocean carbonate ion concentrations ([CO32–]) and carbon isotopic ratios (δ13C) place important constraints on past redistributions of carbon in the ocean-land-atmosphere system and hence provide clues to the causes of atmospheric CO2 concentration changes. However, existing deep-sea [CO32–] reconstructions conflict with one another, complicating paleoceanographic interpretations. Here, we present deep-sea [CO32–] for five cores from the three major oceans quantified using benthic foraminiferal boron/calcium ratios since the last glacial period. Combined benthic δ13C and [CO32–] results indicate that deep-sea-released CO2 during the early deglacial period (17.5 to 14.5 thousand years ago) was preferentially stored in the atmosphere, whereas during the late deglacial period (14 to 10 thousand years ago), besides contributing to the contemporary atmospheric CO2 rise, a substantial portion of CO2 released from oceans was absorbed by the terrestrial biosphere.

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