Contribution of Southern Ocean surface-water stratification to low atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the last glacial period Academic Article uri icon


  • The nitrogen-isotope record preserved in Southern Ocean sediments, along with several geochemical tracers for the settling fluxes of biogenic matter, reveals patterns of past nutrient supply to phytoplankton and surface-water stratification in this oceanic region. Areal averaging of these spatial patterns indicates that reduction of the CO2 ‘leak’ from ocean to atmosphere by increased surface-water stratification south of the Polar Front made a greater contribution to the lowering of atmospheric CO2 concentration during the Last Glacial Maximum than did the increased export of organic carbon from surface to deep waters occurring further north.

publication date

  • October 1997