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Other research product . Collection . 2013

A reconstruction of atmospheric carbon dioxide and its stable carbon isotopic composition from the penultimate glacial maximum to the glacial inception

Schneider, Robert; Schmitt, Jochen; Koehler, Peter; Joos, Fortunat; Fischer, Hubertus;
Open Access
Published: 01 Jan 2013

The reconstruction of the stable carbon isotope evolution in atmospheric CO2 (d13Catm ), as archived in Antarctic ice cores, bears the potential to disentangle the contributions of the different carbon cycle fluxes causing past CO2 variations. Here we present a new record of d13Catm before, during and after the Marine Isotope Stage 5.5 (155 000 to 105 000 years BP). The record was derived with a well established sublimation method using ice from the EPICA Dome C (EDC) and the Talos Dome ice cores in East Antarctica. We find a 0.4 permil shift to heavier values between the mean d13Catm level in the Penultimate (~ 140 000 years BP) and Last Glacial Maximum (~ 22 000 years BP), which can be explained by either (i) changes in the isotopic composition or (ii) intensity of the carbon input fluxes to the combined ocean/atmosphere carbon reservoir or (iii) by long-term peat buildup. Our isotopic data suggest that the carbon cycle evolution along Termination II and the subsequent interglacial was controlled by essentially the same processes as during the last 24 000 years, but with different phasing and magnitudes. Furthermore, a 5000 years lag in the CO2 decline relative to EDC temperatures is confirmed during the glacial inception at the end of MIS 5.5 (120 000 years BP). Based on our isotopic data this lag can be explained by terrestrial carbon release and carbonate compensation.


European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA), Integrierte Analyse zwischeneiszeitlicher Klimadynamik (INTERDYNAMIK)

Funded by
Climate change - Learning from the past climate
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 243908
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP1 | ENV
SNSF| Climate and Environmental Physics
  • Funder: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • Project Code: 147174
  • Funding stream: Projects | Project funding