The polar ocean and glacial cycles in atmospheric CO(2) concentration

Nature. 2010 Jul 1;466(7302):47-55. doi: 10.1038/nature09149.


Global climate and the atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide () are correlated over recent glacial cycles, with lower during ice ages, but the causes of the changes are unknown. The modern Southern Ocean releases deeply sequestered CO(2) to the atmosphere. Growing evidence suggests that the Southern Ocean CO(2) 'leak' was stemmed during ice ages, increasing ocean CO(2) storage. Such a change would also have made the global ocean more alkaline, driving additional ocean CO(2) uptake. This explanation for lower ice-age , if correct, has much to teach us about the controls on current ocean processes.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antarctic Regions
  • Atmosphere / chemistry*
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Carbon Dioxide / history*
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Eukaryota / metabolism
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ice Cover*
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Seawater / microbiology


  • Carbon Dioxide