Studies in the Modern Ocean

CTD/hydrocast package descending into the Southern Ocean. Photo Kenemy

The CTD/hydrocast package descending into the Southern Ocean water column from the deck of the South African research icebreaker S.A. Agulhas II, sailing from Cape Town to the Antarctic winter ice edge. Photo: Preston Cosslett Kemeny ’15

 

References

23 Publications
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Reconstructed changes in seawater calcium and magnesium concentration ([Ca2+], [Mg2+]) predictably affect the ocean s acid/base and carbon chemistry. Yet inaccurate formulations of chemical equilibrium "constants" are currently in use to account for these changes. Here we develop an efficient implementation of the MIAMI Ionic Interaction Model to…
In the context of the atmospheric CO2 14C/C (δCatm14) changes since the last ice age, two episodes of sharp δCatm14 decline have been related to either the venting of deeply sequestered low-14C CO2 through the Southern Ocean surface or the abrupt onset of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation. In model simulations using an improved…
The ocean s biological pump refers to the coupled biological, chemical, and physical processes that work to concentrate carbon and other biologically active elements in the voluminous ocean interior, sequestering them from the surface ocean and the atmosphere. Current research seeks to understand the relationship of the ocean s biological pump…
Severely negative 14C anomalies from the mid-depth Pacific and the Arabian Sea have been taken as support for the hypothesized deglacial release of a previously isolated, extremely 14C-deplete deep ocean carbon reservoir. We report box model simulations that cast doubt on both the existence of the hypothesized deep reservoir and its ability to…
In a box model synthesis of Southern Ocean and North Atlantic mechanisms for lowering CO2 during ice ages, the CO2 changes are parsed into their component geochemical causes, including the soft-tissue pump, the carbonate pump, and whole ocean alkalinity. When the mechanisms are applied together, their interactions greatly modify the net CO2 change…
From 1.25 million to 700,000 years ago, the ice age cycle deepened and lengthened from 41,000- to 100,000-year periodicity, a transition that remains unexplained. Using surface- and bottom-dwelling foraminifera from the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean to reconstruct the deep-to-surface supply of water during the ice ages of the past 1.5…
The 15N/14N and 18O/16O ratios of nitrate in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) (Summit, Greenland) ice core are much higher in ice from the last glacial period than in the pre-industrial Holocene, despite the lack of a significant glacial/interglacial change in nitrate concentration. While both the 15N/14N and 18O/16O records are…
Nitrogen and oxygen isotopes of NO3- have been measured in snow and firn from Summit, Greenland. The 15N/ 14N and 18O/16O ratios of NO 3- in recently fallen snow are similar to those of surface snow. Diurnal variation is observed in 15N/ 14N of NO3-, and possibly 18O/16O, suggesting fractionating loss of NO3- from snow during the day, which is…
Rainwater collected on the island of Bermuda between January 2000 and January 2001 shows pronounced seasonal variation in the nitrogen and oxygen isotopic composition of nitrate. Higher 15N/14N and lower 18O/16O ratios are observed in the warm season (April-September) in comparison to the cool season (October-March): The mean δ15N of nitrate for…
In the context of gradual Cenozoic cooling, the timing of the onset of significant Northern Hemisphere glaciation 2.7 million years ago is consistent with Milankovitch s orbital theory, which posited that ice sheets grow when polar summertime insolation and temperature are low. However, the role of moisture supply in the initiation of large…
In the anoxic Cariaco Basin of the southern Caribbean, the bulk titanium content of undisturbed sediment reflects variations in riverine input and the hydrological cycle over northern tropical South America. A seasonally resolved record of titanium shows that the collapse of Maya civilization in the Terminal Classic Period occurred during an…
Titanium and iron concentration data from the anoxic Cariaco Basin, off the Venezuelan coast, can be used to infer variations in the hydrological cycle over northern South America during the past 14,000 years with subdecadal resolution. Following a dry Younger Dryas, a period of increased precipitation and riverine discharge occurred during the…
The surface waters of the modern subarctic Pacific Ocean are isolated from the nutrient-rich waters below by a steep vertical gradient in salinity (halocline), a feature which is a dominant control on upper-ocean stratification in polar environments. The physical processes which maintain the halocline and, in turn, its physical, biological, and…
The effect of sea level change on nutrient supply to the anoxic Cariaco demonstrates the fundamental importance of nitrogen (N2) fixation and phosphate to oceanic production. As N2 fixation produces biomass of low δ15N and has been reported to be an important component of the nitrogen cycle in the modern Cariaco Basin, we propose that it…
During the last interglacial period, global temperatures were ∼2°C warmer than at present and sea level was 6 to 8 meters higher. Southern Ocean sediments reveal a spike in authigenic uranium 127,000 years ago, within the last interglacial, reflecting decreased oxygenation of deep water by Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). Unlike ice age reductions…

The oxygen content of the oceans is susceptible to climate change and has declined in recent decades1, with the largest effect in oxygen-deficient zones (ODZs)2 , that is,mid-depth ocean regions with oxygen concentrations <5 μmol kg −1 (ref. 3). Earth-system-model simulations of climate warming predict that ODZs will expand until at least…

We present a method for measuring 15N-NH4+ in marine, estuarine and fresh waters. The advantage of this method is that it is broadly applicable to all types of water and it allows measurements in samples with lower ammonium concentrations than has previously been possible. The procedure is a modification of the ammonia diffusion method and uses…
Using batch cultures, the 15N/14N (hereafter δ15N) of diatom-bound organic matter was measured and compared to the δ15N of total diatom biomass during the progressive consumption of a nitrate pool in four polar diatom species (Fragilariopsis cylindrus, Fragilariopsis kerguelensis, Pseudo-nitzschia seriata, and Thalassiosira nordenskioeldii) and…
The response of tropical forests to climate change will depend on individual plant species nutritional strategies, which have not been defined in the case of the nitrogen nutrition that is critical to sustaining plant growth and photosynthesis. We used isotope natural abundances to show that a group of tropical plant species with diverse growth…
The nitrogen isotopic composition (15N/14N) of forested ecosystems varies systematically worldwide. In tropical forests, which are elevated in 15N relative to temperate biomes, a decrease in ecosystem 15N/14N with increasing rainfall has been reported. This trend is seen in a set of well characterized Hawaiian rainforests, across which we have…
Temporal variations in the atmospheric concentration of radiocarbon sometimes result in radiocarbon-based age-estimates of biogenic material that do not agree with true calendar age. This problem is particularly severe beyond the limit of the high-resolution radiocarbon calibration based on tree-ring data, which stretches back only to about 11.8…