Oxygen-18 of O2 Records the Impact of Abrupt Climate Change on the Terrestrial Biosphere

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5933, pp. 1431-1434
DOI: 10.1126/science.1169473

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Photosynthesis and respiration occur widely on Earth’s surface, and the 18O/16O ratio of the oxygen produced and consumed varies with climatic conditions. As a consequence, the history of climate is reflected in the deviation of the 18O/16O of air (δ18Oatm) from seawater δ18O (known as the Dole effect). We report variations in δ18Oatm over the past 60,000 years related to Heinrich and Dansgaard-Oeschger events, two modes of abrupt climate change observed during the last ice age. Correlations with cave records support the hypothesis that the Dole effect is primarily governed by the strength of the Asian and North African monsoons and confirm that widespread changes in low-latitude terrestrial rainfall accompanied abrupt climate change. The rapid δ18Oatm changes can also be used to synchronize ice records by providing global time markers.

  • Present address: The Pennington School, 112 West Delaware Avenue, Pennington, NJ 08534, USA.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science