Name
Jenny Hieronymus
Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Sweden

Title
The global marine carbon system through time

Time and place
Fri 13 June 2014, 10.00
Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12

(This event has taken place.)

 

Abstract

Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas and in order to understand its effect on the climate we need to identify its sources and sinks. This thesis focuses on different aspects of the marine carbon system and the exchange of carbon between the ocean and the atmosphere.

To understand the distribution of carbon between different reservoirs such as land, ocean and atmosphere, it is important to consider the origin of a carbon flux. If the carbon originates from rock, it comprises an external source. If, however, it originates from the atmosphere, such as a flux of organic carbon, it constitutes an internal exchange. We have re-calculated riverine fluxes that are commonly expressed in terms of ions, as fluxes of total carbon and alkalinity. Furthermore, we have separated the total carbon fluxes into their external and internal parts.

External sources and sinks, as well as internal exchange can sometimes be more easily understood if the carbon in the ocean is separated into acidic and basic carbon (AC and BC). These two state variables have opposite effect on the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the surface ocean. We have used these new variables to describe the effect of pyrite production during periods in the geological past when large parts of the oceans have been oxygen free, so called oceanic anoxic events. Sulfate reduction that occurs in oxygen free environments leads to an increase in alkalinity. We show that the net effect of photosynthesis, sulfate reduction and pyrite production leads to a reduction of acidic carbon and thereby a decreased surface pressure of CO2. Furthermore, we demonstrate the difference between a system with and without carbonate compensation that comprises a regulatory mechanism for the carbon system.

During the anoxic events there is a shift in the composition of carbon isotopes in the system. A negative isotope shift is believed to be a result of increased supply of light carbon from volcanic activity or melting methane clathrates, while a positive shift is a result of increased burial of organic carbon. We have investigated the implications of different sources and sinks on the size of an isotope shift. This is done by comparing simple budget calculations with a more complete model. We show that carbonate compensation implies that more light carbon must be supplied to the system to obtain the same negative shift than for the simple budget calculations where sources and sinks of calcium carbonate are not considered.

Welcome!