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Keeling, RF, Najjar RP, Bender ML, Tans PP.  1993.  What atmospheric oxygen measurements can tell us about the global carbon cycle. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 7:37-67.   10.1029/92gb02733   AbstractWebsite

This paper explores the role that measurements of changes in atmospheric oxygen, detected through changes in the O2/N2 ratio of air, can play in improving our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Simple conceptual models are presented in order to clarify the biological and physical controls on the exchanges of O2, CO2, N2, and Ar across the air-sea interface and in order to clarify the relationships between biologically mediated fluxes of oxygen across the air-sea interface and the cycles of organic carbon in the ocean. Predictions of large-scale seasonal variations and gradients in atmospheric oxygen are presented. A two-dimensional model is used to relate changes in the O2/N2 ratio of air to the sources of oxygen from terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the thermal ingassing and outgassing of seawater, and the burning of fossil fuel. The analysis indicates that measurements of seasonal variations in atmospheric oxygen can place new constraints on the large-scale marine biological productivity. Measurements of the north-south gradient and depletion rate of atmospheric oxygen can help determine the rates and geographical distribution of the net storage of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems.

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.