Ocean carbon release ‘ended last Ice Age’

Carbon dioxide escaping from the depths of the ocean heralded the end of the last Ice Age, a study suggests. (…) The research, published in Nature, is based on analysing chemical signals in the shells of ancient plankton. The world’s oceans absorb about a third of the atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. (…)

Ocean acidification

The research is based on analysis of ancient marine organisms that lived on the surface of the oceans thousands of years ago.

The acidity of the seawater they inhabited can be gleaned from the chemical signature left in their shells, which in turn allows the amount of carbon dioxide in the water to be calculated.

Co-researcher, Dr Gavin Foster, said: “Just like the way the oceans have stored around 30% of humanity’s fossil fuel emissions over the last 100 years or so, our new data confirms that natural variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide between ice ages and warm interglacials are driven largely by changes in the amount of carbon stored in our oceans.”


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, about 40% of carbon dioxide emissions since pre-industrial times have remained in the atmosphere. The ocean has absorbed about 30%, causing ocean acidification.

Helen Briggs, BBC News, 12 February 2015. Article.

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