Carbon release from ocean helped end the Ice Age

February 11, 2015, University of Southampton
Globigerina bulloides. Credit: Mariana T. Horigome, Autonomous University of Barcelona

A release of carbon dioxide from the deep ocean helped bring an end to the last Ice Age, according to new research led by the University of Southampton.

Published today in Nature, the study shows that carbon stored in an isolated reservoir deep in the Southern Ocean re-connected with the atmosphere, driving a rise in atmospheric CO2 and an increase in global temperatures. The finding gives scientists an insight into how the ocean affects the carbon cycle and climate change.

Atmospheric CO2 levels fluctuate from about 185 parts-per-million (ppm) during ice ages, to around 280 ppm during warmer periods like today (termed interglacials). The oceans currently contain approximately 60 times more carbon than the atmosphere and that carbon can exchange rapidly (from a geological perspective) between these two systems (atmosphere-ocean).

Joint lead author Dr Miguel Martínez-Botí, from the University of Southampton, says: "The magnitude and rapidity of the swings in atmospheric CO2 across the cycles suggests that changes in ocean carbon storage are important drivers of natural atmospheric CO2 variations.

"Our findings support the theory that a series of processes operating in the southernmost sector of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, a region known as the 'Southern Ocean', changed the amount of carbon stored in the deep-sea. While a reduction in communication between the deep-sea and the atmosphere in this region potentially locks carbon away from the atmosphere into the abyss during ice ages, the opposite occurs during warm interglacial periods."

The international team including academics from the University of Southampton, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Australian National University, studied the composition of the calcium carbonate shells of ancient marine organisms that inhabited the surface of the ocean thousands of years ago in order to trace its carbon content.

Joint lead author Dr Gianluca Marino, from the Australian National University and previously at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, adds: "We found that very high concentrations of dissolved CO2 in surface waters of the Southern Atlantic Ocean and the eastern equatorial Pacific coincided with the rises in atmospheric CO2 at the end of the last ice age, suggesting that these regions acted as sources of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Co-author Dr Gavin Foster from the University of Southampton comments: "Just like the way the oceans have stored around 30 per cent of humanity's fossil fuel emissions over the last 100 years or so, our new data confirms that natural variations in atmospheric CO2 between ice ages and warm interglacials are driven largely by changes in the amount of stored in our oceans.

"While our results support a primary role for the Southern Ocean processes in these natural cycles, we don't yet know the full story and other processes operating in other parts of the , such as the North Pacific, may have an additional role to play."

Explore further: The last ice age

More information: Boron isotope evidence for oceanic CO2 leakage during the last deglaciation, M. A. Martinez-Boti, G. Marino, G. L. Foster, P. Ziveri, M. J. Henehan, J. W. B. Rae, P. G. Mortyn & D. Vance, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature14155

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Science Officer
2.2 / 5 (12) Feb 11, 2015
Does it matter that the rise in CO2 levels occurred after the rise in global temperatures, not before?
Maggnus
4.4 / 5 (13) Feb 11, 2015
Does it matter that the rise in CO2 levels occurred after the rise in global temperatures, not before?
Not really. First, there is nothing in the article to suggest that is the case. They have said CO2==>Rising temperature. So,the feedback loop is increasing CO2 raises temeratures, which heats the oceans, which release more CO2 which raises temperatures, etc.

Even if it started with warming, the feedback loop is increased temperature, which heat the oceans, which releases CO2 which raises temperatures.

Common denominator is always CO2. The past has shown instances where it has lead global warming and followed global warming.
jwbrighton
1.9 / 5 (13) Feb 11, 2015
Total nonsense Maggnus...The article is taking credit for something it cannot prove as usual! But it sure sounds good like always till someone actually does the research.
Eddy Courant
2.2 / 5 (10) Feb 11, 2015
Runaway! Runaway! Oh wait. Why would runaway take a break? Throw another logarithmic on this fire.
Maggnus
4.1 / 5 (15) Feb 11, 2015
Total nonsense Maggnus...The article is taking credit for something it cannot prove as usual! But it sure sounds good like always till someone actually does the research.
And, as usual, you are taking something that you can't understand and denigrating it because you don't understand it. Maybe if you take some time to learn how to comprehend English, you will also begin to understand how truly ridiculous you sound.
JoeBlue
2.5 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2015
Total nonsense Maggnus...The article is taking credit for something it cannot prove as usual! But it sure sounds good like always till someone actually does the research.


It's ok mate, they will just tell you that you can't understand it rather than being able to explain it themselves. See above? They will even insult you for not "understanding", which I think means believing in their bullshit.

Pure sophists, not a drop of rationality or logic. You can't argue rationally with a sophist. They simply do not understand what being rational means, and can't recognize a rational argument due to their cognitive dissonance.
saturnsrim
5 / 5 (10) Feb 11, 2015
Considering the current levels of CO2 in our atmosphere what would be the probable effects of another such release from our oceans?
saturnsrim
5 / 5 (11) Feb 11, 2015
We have already seen how the thawing of permafrost releases methane gasses into the atmosphere. Interaction between surface water and the atmosphere has been proven to increase the oceans acidity as CO2 is absorbed. By studying the silicate structures of marine and land organisms we can determine gas content in our oceans and atmosphere over a far greater period (over 800,000 years) than could be determined by studying atmospheric gas content in ice core samples (200,000 years). The science discussed in the article is sound. The ability of the laymen to understand the science is in question by what I can see from the comments. There are also external factors such as the rate of removal of CO2 by plants and trees that come into play as CO2 levels rise. The current difference between what is currently occurring is the amount of deforestation and the rate at which CO2 from the use of fossil fuels is currently being reintroduced into the environment in addition to the natural processes .
J22
1.6 / 5 (13) Feb 11, 2015
The part that the article omitted was that the rise in atmospheric CO2 occurred after the temperature rise, so could not be the cause.
howhot2
4.9 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2015
From the article's title;
Carbon release from ocean helped end the Ice Age

Once again proving that theory that global warming is caused by excess CO2 created by Man's excessive use of fossil fuels for energy. Also once again proving the deniers like @J22 are idiots.

marcush
5 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2015
Evidence that warming can increase CO2 of course by no means implies CO2 does not cause warming, as is sometimes thought by laymen.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2015
The part that the article omitted was that the rise in atmospheric CO2 occurred after the temperature rise, so could not be the cause.
I don't think it was omitted, it simply doesn't matter. Whether the initial increase, in there even was one, was the result of a change in the Earths orbit, or a sudden release by volcanic activity, or even a change in ocean circulation, doesn't change the fact that the CO2 released by the oceans caused the climate to warm in response, at least until a new equilibrium was reached.

Not surprising really, it has been long understood that CO2 in the atmosphere can initiate or increase warming. Fourier in the 1860's realized that. It is really pretty basic physics.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2015
Considering the current levels of CO2 in our atmosphere what would be the probable effects of another such release from our oceans?
It would be devastating to life currently on this planet. The amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere is thought to have effects that will last literally thousands of years. A release of this size, especially if it is sudden (in geologic terms, over a couple of thousand years or so) would trigger a mass extinction that would dwarf the one we are currently experiencing.

The really scary part is that we don't know if the warming we are causing might destabilize the deep ocean CO2 sinks. Other feedbacks are already bad enough, something like this would see the results extend for hundreds of thousands of years. The rapidity of the changes would not bode well for our species. Hell, the rapidity of change not is already going to stress our species severely.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2015
A little bit more regarding ocean released CO2 and its possible effects on climate: http://phys.org/n...ans.html

And a correction to my last post: Hell the rapidity of change NOW is already....
runrig
5 / 5 (8) Feb 12, 2015
JoeBlue
Pure sophists, not a drop of rationality or logic. You can't argue rationally with a sophist. They simply do not understand what being rational means, and can't recognize a rational argument due to their cognitive dissonance.


Joe - you were answering Magnum with your comment. If you take a second to look at Magnum's comment - you will see that it contained information - and an argument. Your comment is not only childish - it makes no sense whatsoever.

Green: I cant see this particular, err, Contrarian,

However I find it illuminating that the para that you quote of his precisely describes him/herself and his/her ilk.
One singularly vital component of mental capacity we the upholders of science hold is common-sense. It is conspicuously absent in him/her. Since when in this world other than down the rabbit-hole - are the vast majority in possession of "cognitive dissonance". Besides science being the excluision of that.
Answers on a postcard...
JVK
1 / 5 (4) Feb 12, 2015
Excerpt: "...a reduction in communication between the deep-sea and the atmosphere..."

My comment: The link from the sun's biological energy to life was reportedly derived from this balanced chemical reaction:

CO2 + H2O -> CHO's + O2
as in
6 CO2 + 6 H2O ----> C6H12O6 + 6 O2

In the context of a report on "Life is physics and chemistry and communication" http://dx.doi.org...as.12570 is this more recent report claiming that the sun's biological energy helped end all Ice Ages, or just the last one?

If the sun's biological energy ended all the Ice Ages, is it also responsible for the diversity of morphological and behavioral phenotypes on this planet?

Others, for comparison, have suggested that cosmic rays and mutations link the evolution of biodiversity. Does that make sense to anyone who knows anything about about physics, chemistry, and molecular biology?
saturnsrim
5 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2015
JVK
We do know that exposure to the suns radiation can cause sun burns and skin cancers and that in areas where the ozone has been depleted that this can be more pronounced. Also people that live in hot arid regions as well as those that live in arctic regions tend to have darker pigmentation and that this is a genetic trait that acts as a protection to high levels of sun exposure. You might wonder why populations from completely opposite environments would share the same trait in skin color. This may be because those that live in arctic regions have longer seasons of daylight and the snow in those regions reflect sunlight exposing them to more light refraction than those in equatorial climates. As far as genetic mutation is concerned regarding plants, insects, and animals these are traits developed as a result of the environment they live in. Cosmic rays can influence environmental conditions driving mutation. This is from a biological point of view.
anonymous_9001
5 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2015
Don't expect a legible response, saturnsrum. He'll probably tell you that differences in skin color are actually due to dietary differences between populations rather than being the result of selection for UV protection. What a wonderful coincidence that what they eat at the equator and the polar regions result in darker skin with a band of lighter skin between!
JVK
1 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2015
Is the energy equation an accurate representation, or not? Discussion can begin, or end, from there.

The anonymous fool, Andrew Jones (aka anonymous_9001) claimed that I could not show that amino acid substitutions in plants and animals were light-induced. He will do anything he thinks might work to obfuscate the issues of physics, chemistry, and molecular biology because he has been taught to believe in ridiculous theories instead of biologically-based cause and effect.

Also, however, do cosmic rays completely penetrate the ocean's depths?
saturnsrim
5 / 5 (4) Feb 12, 2015
JVK
From what I have observed all light vanishes at about 450 feet but I believe that BETA radiation can penetrate most liquids and solids but I'm not sure to what extent. Here is a site I found that might interest you. http://abyss.uore...ays.html
It states that "Some secondary muons have such high energies that they are able to penetrate the Earth to depths of more than 3.2 km (2 miles)." Of course we also have radioactive dumps in our oceans and Russia has a dumping ground that has several nuclear reactors as well as radioactive waste. I did a paper on this in college discussing how deep water currents could be carrying these waste from these sites and possibly contaminating deep water fishing and crabbing grounds. My college (FSU) attempted to get researchers aboard a Russian vessel that was going out to monitor the site but was refused access by the Russian government.
anonymous_9001
5 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2015
That is indeed the equation for glucose photosynthesis. Congratulations. That's something you learn in high school biology.

claimed that I could not show that amino acid substitutions in plants and animals were light-induced


Which you haven't. The two papers you link in regards to that say no such thing. One is about a conformation change of glycolic acid induced by light and the other is about the effect of an insertion on a light harvesting protein. It says nothing of the cause of the insertion.

Also, however, do cosmic rays completely penetrate the ocean's depths?


Not as far as I can tell. Gamma rays don't even make it to the surface, let alone through kilometers of water.
JVK
1 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2015
Thanks for the link "saturnsrim"

Re: "...identification of cosmic-ray sources... must be inferred from their abundances (or charge spectrum)."

Can the difference between identifying charge spectrum be compared to identifying light energy via spectrophotometry (as in chemistry)?

Re: "...secondary muons have such high energies that they are able to penetrate the Earth to depths of more than 3.2 km (2 miles)."

That is the depth at which anaerobic bacteria cease to be found, which is an interesting correlate.

NOTE: Anonymous_9001 assumes I ask questions because I have not learned the answers, which is sometimes correct. However here, as with my question about microRNAs / viruses, I asked because I hope others can help me "fact" check the physics and chemistry of my model.

Anonymous_9001 wrote a thesis based on his mutagenesis experiments, which most people realize are not useful to understanding links across the disciplines of physics, chemistry, and biology.
anonymous_9001
5 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2015
That is the depth at which anaerobic bacteria cease to be found, which is an interesting correlate.


What do you mean? Sampling in this study took place at 3.5km and apparently it's more likely that what they sampled came from deeper than 5km.

http://www.pnas.o...full.pdf

In this, they sampled 1.6km beneath the seabed, which was already 2.6 beneath the ocean surface.

http://sciencenor...w-seabed

Not to mention that we've observed numerous species in the Mariana trench at a depth of 11km.

I asked because I hope others can help me "fact" check the physics and chemistry of my model.


Needing the CO2 to glucose equation fact checked is like needing 2+2 fact checked. It's not an advanced topic, so it's extremely telling of your overall understanding.

mutagenesis experiments, which most people realize are not useful


Most people? Like who? Who says they're useless besides you?
JVK
1 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2015
penetrate the Earth to depths of more than 3.2 km (2 miles)."


That is the depth at which anaerobic bacteria cease to be found, which is an interesting correlate.


If we were attempting to discuss anaerobic bacteria that live in water, instead of 2 miles underground, the comments of anonymous fools might be welcome. Instead, Andrew Jones (aka anonymous_9001) again shows his ignorance and reasserts his claim that mutagenesis experiments aren't useless -- even though they demonstrate nothing about links from physics and chemistry to the conserved molecular mechanisms of biologically-based cause and effect.

Life is physics and chemistry and communication http://dx.doi.org...as.12570
JVK
1 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2015
Is the energy equation an accurate representation, or not? Discussion can begin, or end, from there.


Needing the CO2 to glucose equation fact checked is like needing 2+2 fact checked.


My intent was to use the answer to proceed with discussion. I also wrote:
He [Andrew Jones] will do anything he thinks might work to obfuscate the issues of physics, chemistry, and molecular biology because he has been taught to believe in ridiculous theories instead of biologically-based cause and effect.


That's what you're doing.
anonymous_9001
5 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2015
I threw in the Mariana trench one just as an example of extreme depth. When they're that deep underground though, they're in water either way because they're below the water table.
24volts
4 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2015
Ok, coming from a layman on the subject this is what I get out of this article and following arguments.

basic thumbnail sketch of planet cycles.

1 planet due to some reason whatever had an ice age

2 ice takes up water exposing a lot of land.

3 uncovered areas release co2 and a lot of methane which starts warming the air back up and changing weather over globe

4 More rain causes previously covered land areas to start growing plants and probably in ocean too as water levels are lower and would tend to be warmer.

5 most ice melts and covers large areas with water again

6 ocean and plants take up excess co2 allowing air to start cooling some

- we have altered the routine here. -

7 glaciers start being created which changes circulation in water and air.

8 changes in weather -less rain and colder water kills off many plants and possibly ocean plankton etc.. not absorbing co2

9 glaciers grow to point of taking over go back to 2 and start again.....
24volts
3 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2015
There is a lot of other important inputs missing from there but I get the impression that many people think this is basically it. I believe there is a lot more to that picture.

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