Posts Tagged 'paleo'

Carbonate dissolution enhanced by ocean stagnation and respiration at the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum

The Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum was a transient, carbon‐induced global warming event, considered the closest analog to ongoing climate change. Impacts of a decrease in deepwater formation during the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum suggested by proxy data on the carbon cycle are not yet fully understood. Using an Earth System Model, we find that changes in overturning circulation are key to reproduce the deoxygenation and carbonate dissolution record. Weakening of the Southern Ocean deepwater formation and enhancement of ocean stratification driven by warming cause an asymmetry in carbonate dissolution between the Atlantic and Pacific basins suggested by proxy data. Reduced ventilation results in accumulation of remineralization products (CO2 and nutrients) in intermediate waters, thereby lowering O2 and increasing CO2. As a result, carbonate dissolution is triggered throughout the water column, while the ocean surface remains supersaturated. Our findings contribute to understanding of the long‐term response of the carbon cycle to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Carbonate dissolution enhanced by ocean stagnation and respiration at the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum’

Global bioevents and the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary in Texas and Alabama: stratigraphy, correlation and ocean acidification

• This paper discusses the K/Pg in terms of surface water acidification caused by the K/Pg impact event. This is coupled with a new model for, and correlation of, the events recorded in a number of areas both proximal to the impact and distal. In particular the model is based on fieldwork in Texas.

With increasing levels of atmospheric pCO2 the oceans are becoming progressively more acidic, with the impact of a lowered pH beginning to affect the calcification of numerous invertebrate groups, including foraminifers, pteropods, heteropods and calcareous nannoplankton. Research on the ecology of foraminifera in the Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of California, Caribbean Sea and elsewhere has shown how modern assemblages are responding to acidification. Experimental work in mesocosms and laboratory cultures are also adding to our knowledge of the response to pH changes. Near Ischia (Italy), natural CO2 vents amongst sea grass meadows are creating low pH environments in which it is possible to observe the response of benthic foraminifera. At a pH of 7.8 the foraminiferal assemblages are already becoming less diverse and below pH 7.6 there are often no calcite-secreting benthic foraminifera. In the Gulf of California, in a deeper-water setting, natural CO2 (and methane) vents are also lowering sea floor pH. The foraminifera show the impact of this change, although the relatively high carbonate saturation ensures that calcite-secreting foraminifers are able to live and reproduce in these relatively low pH environments, only becoming impacted by dissolution effects once dead. Using data from the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary in Texas, Alabama and north-west Europe it is clear that the plankton was severely impacted by surface water acidification while the relatively shallow water benthic foraminifera show little change and no visible signs of post-mortem dissolution due to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Global bioevents and the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary in Texas and Alabama: stratigraphy, correlation and ocean acidification’

Dynamic storage of glacial CO2 in the Atlantic Ocean revealed by boron [CO3] and pH records


• δ11 B and B/Ca data from benthic foraminifera can observe deep ocean carbon storage.

• Glacials exhibit a carbonate chemocline between shallow and deep water.

• East and West Atlantic basin exhibit differential carbonate system behaviour.

• 3 distinct states of [CO] stratification exist in the Atlantic glacial cycle.

• The level of Atlantic stratification is linked to atmospheric CO2 levels.


The origin and carbon content of the deep water mass that fills the North Atlantic Basin, either Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) or North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) is suggested to influence the partitioning of CO2 between the ocean and atmosphere on glacial–interglacial timescales. Fluctuations in the strength of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) have also been shown to play a key role in global and regional climate change on timescales from annual to millennial. The North Atlantic is an important and well-studied ocean basin but many proxy records tracing ocean circulation in this region over the last glacial cycle are challenging to interpret. Here we present new B/Ca-[CO3] and boron isotope-pH data from sites spanning the North Atlantic Ocean from 2200 to 3900 m and covering the last 130 kyr from both sides of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These data allow us to explore the potential of the boron-based proxies as tracers of ocean water masses to ultimately identify the changing nature of Atlantic circulation over the last 130 kyr. This possibility arises because the B/Ca and boron isotope proxies are directly and quantitatively linked to the ocean carbonate system acting as semi-conservative tracers in the modern ocean. Yet the utility of this approach has yet to be demonstrated on glacial–interglacial timescales when various processes may alter the state of the deep ocean carbonate system. We demonstrate that the deep (∼3400 m) North Atlantic Ocean exhibits considerable variability in terms of its carbonate chemistry through the entirety of the last glacial cycle. Our new data confirm that the last interglacial marine isotope stage (MIS) 5e has a similar deep-water geometry to the Holocene, in terms of the carbonate system. In combination with benthic foraminiferal δ13C and a consideration of the [CO3] of contemporaneous southern sourced water, we infer that AABW influences the eastern abyssal North Atlantic throughout the whole of the last glacial (MIS2 through 4) whereas, only in the coldest stages (MIS2 and MIS4) of the last glacial cycle was AABW an important contributor to our deep sites in both North Atlantic basins. Taken together, our carbonate system depth profiles reveal a pattern of changing stratification within the North Atlantic that bears strong similarities to the atmospheric CO2 record, evidencing the important role played by ocean water mass geometry and the deep ocean carbonate system in driving changes in atmospheric CO2 on these timescales.

Continue reading ‘Dynamic storage of glacial CO2 in the Atlantic Ocean revealed by boron [CO3] and pH records’

Atmospheric carbon dioxide reconstruction and ocean acidification deduced from carbon isotope variations across the Triassic–Jurassic boundary in the Qiangtang Area, Tibetan Plateau

The end-Triassic mass extinction was one of the five most profound Phanerozoic extinction events. This event was accompanied by a series of significant environmental changes, of which the most notable is the emergence of warm climate and the world-wide disappearance of carbonate platform. C isotope is one of the main means of reconstructing palaeoenvironment, however, there are very
limited studies on Asia and Oceania in the East Tethys region. In China, continuous marine strata through the J/T boundary are widespread in the Qiangtang area of Tibet (Chen Lan et al., 2017), which provide us abundant
research materials to study the environmental geological evolution during the T–J transition in Asian and even eastern Tethys.

Continue reading ‘Atmospheric carbon dioxide reconstruction and ocean acidification deduced from carbon isotope variations across the Triassic–Jurassic boundary in the Qiangtang Area, Tibetan Plateau’

The role of calcification in carbonate compensation

The long-term recovery of the oceans from present and past acidification is possible due to neutralization by the dissolution of biogenic CaCO3 in bottom sediments, that is, carbonate compensation. However, such chemical compensation is unable to account for all features of past acidification events, such as the enhanced accumulation of CaCO3 at deeper depths after acidification. This overdeepening of CaCO3 accumulation led to the idea that an increased supply of alkalinity to the oceans, via amplified weathering of continental rocks, must accompany chemical compensation. Here we discuss an alternative: that changes to calcification, a biological process dependent on environmental conditions, can enhance and modify chemical compensation and account for overdeepening. Using a simplified ocean box model with both constant and variable calcification, we show that even modest drops in calcification can lead to appreciable long-term alkalinity build-up in the oceans and, thus, create overdeepening; we term this latter effect biological compensation. The chemical and biological manifestations of compensation differ in terms of controls, timing and effects, which we illustrate with model results. To better predict oceanic evolution during the Anthropocene and improve the interpretation of the palaeoceanographic record, it is necessary to better understand biological compensation.

Continue reading ‘The role of calcification in carbonate compensation’

Carbon burial in deep-sea sediment and implications for oceanic inventories of carbon and alkalinity over the last glacial cycle

Although it has long been assumed that the glacial–interglacial cycles of atmospheric CO2 occurred due to increased storage of CO2 in the ocean, with no change in the size of the “active” carbon inventory, there are signs that the geological CO2 supply rate to the active pool varied significantly. The resulting changes of the carbon inventory cannot be assessed without constraining the rate of carbon removal from the system, which largely occurs in marine sediments. The oceanic supply of alkalinity is also removed by the burial of calcium carbonate in marine sediments, which plays a major role in air–sea partitioning of the active carbon inventory. Here, we present the first global reconstruction of carbon and alkalinity burial in deep-sea sediments over the last glacial cycle. Although subject to large uncertainties, the reconstruction provides a first-order constraint on the effects of changes in deep-sea burial fluxes on global carbon and alkalinity inventories over the last glacial cycle. The results suggest that reduced burial of carbonate in the Atlantic Ocean was not entirely compensated by the increased burial in the Pacific basin during the last glacial period, which would have caused a gradual build up of alkalinity in the ocean. We also consider the magnitude of possible changes in the larger but poorly constrained rates of burial on continental shelves, and show that these could have been significantly larger than the deep-sea burial changes. The burial-driven inventory variations are sufficiently large to have significantly altered the δ13C of the ocean–atmosphere carbon and changed the average dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and alkalinity oncentrations of the ocean by more than 100µM, confirming that carbon burial uxes were a dynamic, interactive component of the glacial cycles that significantly modified the size of the active carbon pool. Our results also suggest that geological sources and sinks were significantly unbalanced during the late Holocene, leading to a slow net removal flux on the order of 0.1PgCyr−1 prior to the rapid input of carbon during the industrial period.

Continue reading ‘Carbon burial in deep-sea sediment and implications for oceanic inventories of carbon and alkalinity over the last glacial cycle’

Tracking the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum in the North Atlantic: A shelf‐to‐basin analysis with a regional ocean model

The Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a transient greenhouse climate interval spurred by a large release of carbon to the ocean‐atmosphere ca. 56 million years ago, provides a geological point of comparison for potential effects of anthropogenic carbon emission. Geochemical proxies and fossil assemblages offer insight into the continental shelf response to the PETM, but global ocean‐atmosphere models cannot resolve shelf processes at sufficient resolution for model‐data comparisons. We present high‐resolution simulations of the pre‐PETM and PETM North Atlantic basin using the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), including a resolved continental shelf along the eastern margin of North America in the Salisbury Embayment. ROMS’ high‐resolution, terrain‐following coordinate system permits greater vertical resolution and eddy resolution along continental margins while also capturing open‐ocean processes. We find that during the PETM, benthic oxygen concentration ([O2]) in the Salisbury Embayment decreases 18% to an average state of year‐round mild hypoxia, while average benthic calcite saturation (Ω) declines from 4.4 to 2.3. These benthic decreases are driven largely by enhanced benthic oxic respiration, which occurs despite no increase in shelf productivity. Instead, increased respiration stems from less vigorous off‐shelf transport of organic matter due to (a) weakened along‐shelf water currents and (b) weakened coastal upwelling that forces productivity closer to the shelf seafloor. Model results do not include riverine inputs, which would have further lowered benthic [O2] and Ω. Our data suggest lowered benthic calcite saturation and mild hypoxia as an upper bound on the oxygenation state of the Salisbury Embayment seafloor during the PETM.

Continue reading ‘Tracking the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum in the North Atlantic: A shelf‐to‐basin analysis with a regional ocean model’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book