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An oceanic origin for the increase of atmospheric radiocarbon during the Younger Dryas

Singarayer, J. S., Richards, D. A., Ridgwell, A., Valdes, P. J., Austin, W. E. N. and Beck, J. W. (2008) An oceanic origin for the increase of atmospheric radiocarbon during the Younger Dryas. Geophysical Research Letters, 35 (14). L14707. ISSN 0094-8276

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2008GL034074


Variations in carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio in the atmosphere (Δ14Catm) provide a powerful diagnostic for elucidating the timing and nature of geophysical and anthropological change. The (Atlantic) marine archive suggests a rapid Δ14Catm increase of 50‰ at the onset of the Younger Dryas (YD) cold reversal (12.9–11.7 kyr BP), which has not yet been satisfactorily explained in terms of magnitude or causal mechanism, as either a change in ocean ventilation or production rate. Using Earth-system model simulations and comparison of marine-based radiocarbon records from different ocean basins, we demonstrate that the YD Δ14Catm increase is smaller than suggested by the marine archive. This is due to changes in reservoir age, predominantly caused by reduced ocean ventilation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:34495
Uncontrolled Keywords: Earth system model; radiocarbon; Younger Dryas
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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