Nature Publishing Group, publisher of Nature, and other science journals and reference works
my account e-alerts subscribe register
Saturday 23 September 2017
Journal Home
Current Issue
Download PDF
Export citation
Export references
Send to a friend
More articles like this

Letters to Nature
Nature 308, 621 - 624 (12 April 1984); doi:10.1038/308621a0

A new model for the role of the oceans in determining atmospheric PCO2

J. L. Sarmiento & J. R. Toggweiler

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08542, USA

Recent ice-core measurements have revealed that the atmospheric CO2 level increased comparatively rapidly by about 70 p.p.m. at the end of the last ice age1. Here we present an ocean–atmosphere model in which changes in the productivity of high latitude surface waters (from which deep water is formed and circulated around the world's ocean) and/or in the thermo-haline overturning rate can lead to substantial changes in atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide (P CO 2), over a concentration range 163–425 p.p.m. A major contribution to the low P CO 2 of the last ice may have been an increase in the net high latitude productivity, possibly coupled with a decrease in the thermohaline overturning.



1. Neftel, A. H., Oeschger, H., Schwander, J., Stauffer, B. & Zumbrunn, R. Nature 295, 220−223 (1982). | ISI | ChemPort |
2. Broecker, W. S. in The Sea Vol. 2 (ed. Hill, M. N.) 88−108 (Interscience, New York, 1963).
3. Sarmiento, J. L. J. phys. Oceanogr. 13, 1269−1274 (1983). | Article | ISI |
4. Broecker, W. S. & Peng, T.-H. Tracers in the Sea (Eldigio, Palisades, 1982).
5. Broecker, W. S. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 46, 1689−1705 (1982). | Article | ISI | ChemPort |
6. Broecker, W. S. & Takahashi, T. Ann. Glaciol. (submitted).
7. Siegenthaler, U. J. geophys. Res. 88, 3599−3608 (1983). | ISI | ChemPort |
8. Redfield, A. C., Ketchum, B. H. & Richards, F. A. The Sea Vol. 2 (ed. Hill, M. N.) 26−75 (Interscience, New York, 1963).
9. Takahashi, T., Broecker, W. S., Bainbridge, A. E. & Weiss, R. F. Tech. Rep. No. 1, CU-1-80 (Lamont-Doherty Geol. Observatory, Palisades, New York, 1980).
10. Boyle, E. A. & Keigwin, L. D. Science 218, 784−787 (1982). | ISI | ChemPort |
11. Streeter, S. S., Belanger, P. E., Kellogg, T. B. & Duplessey, J. C. Quat. Res. 18, 72−90 (1982). | ISI |
12. Manabe, S., Stouffer, R. J. J. geophys. Res. 85, 5529−5554 (1980). | ISI |
13. Oeschger, H. et al. Maurie Ewing Symp. 1982 Vol. 4 (American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, in the press).
14. Levitus, S. Climatological Atlas of the World Ocean (NOAA Professional Pap. 13, US Dept. of Commerce, Washington DC, 1982).

© 1984 Nature Publishing Group
Privacy Policy