Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Greenhouse gase increases linked to changes in ocean currents

Date:
June 21, 2010
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
By examining 800,000-year-old polar ice, scientists increasingly are learning how the climate has changed since the last ice melt and that carbon dioxide has become more abundant in Earth's atmosphere.

By examining 800,000-year-old polar ice, scientists increasingly are learning how the climate has changed since the last ice melt and that carbon dioxide has become more abundant in Earth's atmosphere.

For two decades, French scientist Jιrτme Chappellaz has been examining ice cores collected from deep inside the polar ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica. His studies on the interconnecting air spaces of old snow -- or firn air -- in the ice cores show that the roughly 40 percent increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the Earth's last deglaciation can be attributed in large part to changes in the circulation and biological activity of the oceanic waters surrounding Antarctica.

Chappellaz presented his findings in Knoxville, Tenn. during the Goldschmidt Conference, an international gathering of several thousand geochemists who converge annually to share their research on Earth, energy and the environment. The event, hosted by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is taking place June 13-18.

By measuring the carbon isotopes in the firn air, scientists can pinpoint the source of atmospheric carbon during the millennia. Because living organisms at the surface of the oceans tend to take up the lighter of the carbon isotopes, 13C, and this isotope is then released when the organisms decay, scientists know the higher concentration of 13C is originating from the oceans.

Normally, the organisms die, sink to the ocean depths, and decompose, releasing carbon that remains stored in the cold, deep waters for centuries. But a growing concentration of the isotope 13C in the air during the last deglaciation indicates that this "old" carbon from decomposition was released from the southern polar waters, where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current transports more water than any other current in the world. Here, oceanic circulation is increasing in intensity and the deep water is releasing carbon dioxide at the surface.

For two decades, Chappellaz has examined polar ice cores to decipher how the primary greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- have changed in concentrations and ratios since ancient times and what has caused those changes. He notably showed for the first time the tight link existing between atmospheric methane and global climate at glacial-interglacial time scales. Chappellaz is research director at the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de Environnement in Grenoble, France.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Greenhouse gase increases linked to changes in ocean currents." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618081535.htm>.
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. (2010, June 21). Greenhouse gase increases linked to changes in ocean currents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618081535.htm
University of Tennessee at Knoxville. "Greenhouse gase increases linked to changes in ocean currents." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618081535.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins