Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


Cool stratification

The quirky relationship between seawater temperature and density is invoked to account for how, during past global cooling, the high-latitude oceans locked up atmospheric CO2 and produced further cooling.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Variation in seawater density as a function of temperature, with salinity at 35‰.


  1. Zachos, J. et al. Science 292, 686–693 (2001).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Sigman, D. M., Jaccard, S. L. & Haug, G. H. Nature 428, 59–63 (2004).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Pearson, P. N. & Palmer, M. R. Nature 406, 695–699 (2000).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Petit, J. R. et al. Nature 429, 429–436 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Sarmiento, J. L. & Toggweiler, J. R. Nature 308, 621–624 (1984).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Haug, G. H. et al. Nature 401, 779–782 (1999).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Lear, C. H. et al. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 210, 425–436 (2003).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Francois, R. Cool stratification. Nature 428, 31–32 (2004).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing