Two Modes of Change in Southern Ocean Productivity Over the Past Million Years

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Abstract

Export of organic carbon from surface waters of the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean decreased during the last ice age, coinciding with declining atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, signaling reduced exchange of CO2 between the ocean interior and the atmosphere. In contrast, in the Subantarctic Zone, export production increased into ice ages coinciding with rising dust fluxes, thus suggesting iron fertilization of subantarctic phytoplankton. Here, a new high-resolution productivity record from the Antarctic Zone is compiled with parallel subantarctic data over the past million years. Together, they fit the view that the combination of these two modes of Southern Ocean change determines the temporal structure of the glacial-interglacial atmospheric CO2 record, including during the interval of “lukewarm” interglacials between 450 and 800 thousand years ago.

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