Publications

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2018
Wagner, TJW, Dell RW, Eisenman I, Keeling RF, Padman L, Severinghaus JP.  2018.  Wave inhibition by sea ice enables trans-Atlantic ice rafting of debris during Heinrich events. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 495:157-163.   10.1016/j.epsl.2018.05.006   AbstractWebsite

The last glacial period was punctuated by episodes of massive iceberg calving from the Laurentide Ice Sheet, called Heinrich events, which are identified by layers of ice-rafted debris (IRD) in ocean sediment cores from the North Atlantic. The thickness of these IRD layers declines more gradually with distance from the iceberg sources than would be expected based on present-day iceberg drift and decay. Here we model icebergs as passive Lagrangian particles driven by ocean currents, winds, and sea surface temperatures. The icebergs are released in a comprehensive climate model simulation of the last glacial maximum (LGM), as well as a simulation of the modern climate. The two simulated climates result in qualitatively similar distributions of iceberg meltwater and hence debris, with the colder temperatures of the LGM having only a relatively small effect on meltwater spread. In both scenarios, meltwater flux falls off rapidly with zonal distance from the source, in contrast with the more uniform spread of IRD in sediment cores. To address this discrepancy, we propose a physical mechanism that could have prolonged the lifetime of icebergs during Heinrich events. The mechanism involves a surface layer of cold and fresh meltwater formed from, and retained around, large densely packed armadas of icebergs. This leads to wintertime sea ice formation even in relatively low latitudes. The sea ice in turn shields the icebergs from wave erosion, which is the main source of iceberg ablation. We find that sea ice could plausibly have formed around the icebergs during four months each winter. Allowing for four months of sea ice in the model results in a simulated IRD distribution which approximately agrees with the distribution of IRD in sediment cores. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

2013
Rafelski, LE, Paplawsky B, Keeling RF.  2013.  An Equilibrator System to Measure Dissolved Oxygen and Its Isotopes. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. 30:361-377.   10.1175/jtech-d-12-00074.1   AbstractWebsite

An equilibrator is presented that is designed to have a sufficient equilibration time even for insoluble gases, and to minimize artifacts associated with not equilibrating to the total gas tension. A gas tension device was used to balance the pressure inside the equilibrator with the total gas tension. The equilibrator has an e-folding time of 7.36 +/- 0.74 min for oxygen and oxygen isotopes, allowing changes on hourly time scales to be easily resolved. The equilibrator delivers "equilibrated" air at a flow rate of 3 mL min(-1) to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. The high gas sampling flow rate would allow the equilibrator to be interfaced with many potential devices, but further development may be required for use at sea. This system was tested at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pier, in La Jolla, California. A mathematical model validated with performance tests was used to assess the sensitivity of the equilibrated air composition to headspace pressure and makeup gas composition. Parameters in this model can be quantified to establish corrections under different operating conditions. For typical observed values, under the operating conditions presented here, the uncertainty in the measurement due to the equilibrator system is 2.2 per mil for delta(O-2/N-2), 1.5 per mil for delta(O-2/Ar), 0.059 per mil for delta O-18, and 0.0030 per mil for Delta O-17.

2012
Manizza, M, Keeling RF, Nevison CD.  2012.  On the processes controlling the seasonal cycles of the air-sea fluxes of O2 and N2O: A modelling study. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 64   10.3402/tellusb.v64i0.18429   AbstractWebsite

The seasonal dynamics of the air-sea gas flux of oxygen (O-2) are controlled by multiple processes occurring simultaneously. Previous studies showed how to separate the thermal component from the total O-2 flux to quantify the residual oxygen flux due to biological processes. However, this biological signal includes the effect of both net euphotic zone production (NEZP) and subsurface water ventilation. To help understand and separate these two components, we use a large-scale ocean general circulation model (OGCM), globally configured, and coupled to a biogeochemical model. The combined model implements not only the oceanic cycle of O-2 but also the cycles of nitrous oxide (N2O), argon (Ar) and nitrogen (N-2). For this study, we apply a technique to distinguish the fluxes of O-2 driven separately by thermal forcing, NEZP, and address the role of ocean ventilation by carrying separate O-2 components in the model driven by solubility, NEZP and ventilation. Model results show that the ventilation component can be neglected in summer compared to the production and thermal components polewards but not equatorward of 30 degrees in each hemisphere. This also implies that neglecting the role of ventilation in the subtropical areas would lead to overestimation of the component of O-2 flux due to NEZP by 20-30%. Model results also show that the ventilation components of air-sea O-2 and N2O fluxes are strongly anti-correlated in a ratio that reflects the subsurface tracer/tracer relationships (similar to 0.1 mmol N2O/mol O-2) as derived from observations. The results support the use of simple scaling relationships linking together the thermally driven fluxes of Ar, N-2 and O-2. Furthermore, our study also shows that for latitudes polewards of 30 degrees of both hemispheres, the Garcia and Keeling (2001) climatology, when compared to our model results, has a phasing error with the fluxes being too early by similar to 2-3 weeks.

2011
Keeling, RF, Visbeck M.  2011.  On the linkage between Antarctic surface water stratification and global deep-water temperature. Journal of Climate. 24:3545-3557.   10.1175/2011jcli3642.1   AbstractWebsite

The suggestion is advanced that the remarkably low static stability of Antarctic surface waters may arise from a feedback loop involving global deep-water temperatures. If deep-water temperatures are too warm, this promotes Antarctic convection, thereby strengthening the inflow of Antarctic Bottom Water into the ocean interior and cooling the deep ocean. If deep waters are too cold, this promotes Antarctic stratification allowing the deep ocean to warm because of the input of North Atlantic Deep Water. A steady-state deep-water temperature is achieved such that the Antarctic surface can barely undergo convection. A two-box model is used to illustrate this feedback loop in its simplest expression and to develop basic concepts, such as the bounds on the operation of this loop. The model illustrates the possible dominating influence of Antarctic upwelling rate and Antarctic freshwater balance on global deep-water temperatures.

2010
Keeling, RF, Kortzinger A, Gruber N.  2010.  Ocean deoxygenation in a warming world. Annual Review of Marine Science. 2:199-229., Palo Alto: Annual Reviews   10.1146/annurev.marine.010908.163855   Abstract

Ocean warming and increased stratification of the upper ocean caused by global climate change will likely lead to declines in dissolved O(2) in the ocean interior (ocean deoxygenation) with implications for ocean productivity, nutrient cycling, carbon cycling, and marine habitat. Ocean models predict declines of 1 to 7% in the global ocean O(2) inventory over the next century, with declines continuing for a thousand years or more into the future. An important consequence may be an expansion in the area and volume of so-called oxygen minimum zones, where O(2) levels are too low to support many macrofauna and profound changes in biogeochemical cycling occur. Significant deoxy enation has occurred over the past 50 years in the North Pacific and tropical oceans, suggesting larger changes are looming. The potential for larger O(2) declines in the future suggests the need for all improved observing system for tracking ocean O(2) changes.

2005
Keeling, RF, Visbeck M.  2005.  Northern ice discharges and Antarctic warming: could ocean eddies provide the link? Quaternary Science Reviews. 24:1809-1820.   10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.04.005   AbstractWebsite

A mechanism is advanced for explaining the Antarctic warm events from 90 to 30ka BP which involves meltwater-induced changes in the salinity gradient across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and consequent changes in the poleward heat transport by ocean eddies. Based on simple linear scale analysis, the mechanism is shown to yield warming in the Antarctic interior of roughly the magnitude seen in Antarctic ice-core records (similar to 2 degrees C) in response to ice discharges into the North Atlantic. Consistent with observations, the mechanism produces gradual Antarctic warming and cooling, as dictated by the time required for salinity anomalies to build up and dissipate across the ACC. The mechanism also allows the onset of warming or cooling to be tied to changes in Atlantic overturning, which is relevant here, not for influencing ocean heat transport directly, but for influencing the routing of meltwater from the North Atlantic into the Southern Ocean. The ideas presented here highlight the possibility that eddy processes in the ocean may play a first-order role in aspects of climate variability on millennial time scales. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2002
Keeling, RF, Garcia HE.  2002.  The change in oceanic O2 inventory associated with recent global warming. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99:7848-7853.   10.1073/pnas.122154899   AbstractWebsite

Oceans general circulation models predict that global warming may cause a decrease in the oceanic O-2 inventory and an associated O-2 outgassing. An independent argument is presented here in support of this prediction based on observational evidence of the ocean's biogeochemical response to natural warming. On time scales from seasonal to centennial, natural O-2 flux/heat flux ratios are shown to occur in a range of 2 to 10 nmol of O-2 per joule of warming, with larger ratios typically occurring at higher latitudes and overlongertime scales. The ratios are several times larger than would be expected solely from the effect of heating on the O-2 solubility, indicating that most of the O-2 exchange is biologically mediated through links between heating and stratification. The change in oceanic O-2 inventory through the 1990s is estimated to be 0.3 +/- 0.4 X 10(14) mol of O-2 per year based on scaling the observed anomalous long-term ocean warming by natural O-2 flux/heating ratios and allowing for uncertainty due to decadal variability. Implications are discussed for carbon budgets based on observed changes in atmospheric O-2/N-2 ratio and based on observed changes in ocean dissolved inorganic carbon.

Keeling, RF.  2002.  On the freshwater forcing of the thermohaline circulation in the limit of low diapycnal mixing. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 107   10.1029/2000jc000685   AbstractWebsite

[1] A conjecture is offered on the stability characteristics of the thermohaline circulation in the limit of very low diapycnal mixing. In this limit the action of the winds on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) can sustain a deep overturning pattern known as the "reconfigured conveyor,'' consisting of upwelling around Antarctica and sinking in the North Atlantic, as shown by the work of Toggweiler and others. It is conjectured that in this limit, northern sinking should be stabilized in an "on'' state because of the penetration of freshwater into the ocean interior via isopycnal layers that outcrop to the surface within and south of the ACC. This conjecture is supported by qualitative arguments and by a hydraulic model for the reconfigured conveyor. The hydraulic model takes into account the freshwater budgets of the Atlantic basin, Antarctic surface waters, and the remaining oceans. It also takes into account, in simple terms, wind-driven Antarctic upwelling, eddy transports and mixing within the ACC, changes in pycnocline depth, the role of temperature forcing, and advective feedbacks on salinity. The hydraulic model suggests that multiple "on/off'' states of the reconfigured conveyor are possible but only if the deep waters that form in the Northern Hemisphere are fresher than the intermediate waters that form in the vicinity of the ACC in the Southern Hemisphere, a condition that is not satisfied in the modern ocean.

2001
Keeling, RF, Stephens BB.  2001.  Antarctic sea ice and the control of Pleistocene climate instability (vol 16, pg 112, 2001). Paleoceanography. 16:330-334.   10.1029/2001pa000648   AbstractWebsite

In the paper “Antarctic sea ice and the control of Pleistocene climate instability” by Ralph F. Keeling and Britton B. Stephens (Paleoceanography, 16(1), 112-131,2001), approximately 10 paragraphs from section 5 and Appendix A were inadvertently omitted. The end of the paper from section 5 through the references, including Appendix A and Figure A1, appear below.

Keeling, RF, Stephens BB.  2001.  Antarctic sea ice and the control of Pleistocene climate instability. Paleoceanography. 16:112-131,330-334.   10.1029/2000pa000529   Abstract

A hypothesis is presented for the origin of Pleistocene climate instability, based on expansion of Antarctic sea ice and associated changes in the oceans' salinity structure. The hypothesis assumes that thermohaline overturning is dominated by the reconfigured conveyor of Toggweiler and Samuels [1993b], in which deepwater upwelling is restricted to high southern latitudes. The reconfigured conveyor is shown to be potentially stabilized in an "on" mode by precipitation at high southern latitudes and potentially destabilized into "on" and "off" modes by the counteracting influence of Antarctic sea ice. The mechanism is clarified by the use of a hydraulic analogue. We hypothesize that this mechanism accounts for dominant patterns of thermohaline overturning and climate instability between Pleistocene warm and cold periods. The hypothesis is shown to be consistent with a range of paleoceanographic evidence and to potentially account for details of observed rapid climate changes during glacial and interglacial periods, including aspects of interhemispheric timing.

2000
Stephens, BB, Keeling RF.  2000.  The influence of Antarctic sea ice on glacial-interglacial CO2 variations. Nature. 404:171-174.   10.1038/35004556   AbstractWebsite

Ice-core measurements indicate that atmospheric CO(2) concentrations during glacial periods were consistently about 80 parts per million lower than during interglacial periods(1). Previous explanations for this observation(2-9) have typically had difficulty accounting for either the estimated glacial O(2) concentrations in the deep sea, (13)C/(12)C ratios in Antarctic surface waters, or the depth of calcite saturation; also lacking is an explanation for the strong link between atmospheric CO(2) and Antarctic air temperature(1). There is growing evidence that the amount of deep water upwelling at low latitudes is significantly overestimated in most ocean general circulation models(10,11) and simpler box models previously used to investigate this problem. Here we use a box model with deep-water upwelling confined to south of 55 degrees S to investigate the glacial-interglacial linkages between Antarctic air temperature and atmospheric CO(2) variations. We suggest that low glacial atmospheric CO(2) levels might result from reduced deep-water ventilation associated with either year-round Antarctic sea-ice coverage, or wintertime coverage combined with ice-induced stratification during the summer. The model presented here reproduces 67 parts per million of the observed glacial-interglacial CO(2) difference, as a result of reduced air-sea gas exchange in the Antarctic region, and is generally consistent with the additional observational constraints.