Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
Clim. Past, 7, 771–800, 2011

Special issue: Advances in understanding the Quaternary carbon cycle

Clim. Past, 7, 771–800, 2011

Research article 22 Jul 2011

Research article | 22 Jul 2011

Deep ocean ventilation, carbon isotopes, marine sedimentation and the deglacial CO2 rise

T. Tschumi1, F. Joos2,1, M. Gehlen3, and C. Heinze4,5,6 T. Tschumi et al.
  • 1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Laboratoire du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), L'Orme des Merisiers Bât. 712, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 4Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Allegaten 70, 5007 Bergen, Norway
  • 5Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 6Uni Bjerknes Centre, Uni Research, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. The link between the atmospheric CO2 level and the ventilation state of the deep ocean is an important building block of the key hypotheses put forth to explain glacial-interglacial CO2 fluctuations. In this study, we systematically examine the sensitivity of atmospheric CO2 and its carbon isotope composition to changes in deep ocean ventilation, the ocean carbon pumps, and sediment formation in a global 3-D ocean-sediment carbon cycle model. Our results provide support for the hypothesis that a break up of Southern Ocean stratification and invigorated deep ocean ventilation were the dominant drivers for the early deglacial CO2 rise of ~35 ppm between the Last Glacial Maximum and 14.6 ka BP. Another rise of 10 ppm until the end of the Holocene is attributed to carbonate compensation responding to the early deglacial change in ocean circulation. Our reasoning is based on a multi-proxy analysis which indicates that an acceleration of deep ocean ventilation during early deglaciation is not only consistent with recorded atmospheric CO2 but also with the reconstructed opal sedimentation peak in the Southern Ocean at around 16 ka BP, the record of atmospheric δ13CCO2, and the reconstructed changes in the Pacific CaCO3 saturation horizon.