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AGU: Geophysical Research Letters



  • Antarctica
  • Carbon cycles
  • abrupt climate change
  • carbon dioxide
  • ice age
  • ice core

Index Terms

  • 0428 - Carbon cycling
  • 0473 - Paleoclimatology and paleoceanography
  • 0724 - Ice cores
  • 1605 - Abrupt/rapid climate change
  • 1615 - Biogeochemical cycles, processes, and modeling

Paper in Press


Abrupt change in atmospheric CO2 during the last ice age

Key Points
  • Half of CO2 increase during a 1500-year cold period occurred in < 200 yrs.
  • Abrupt CO2 rise is synchronous, or slightly later than,a rapid Antarctic warming.
  • C-cycle-climate modeling doesn't capture all of the processes for CO2 variations.


Jinho Ahn

Edward Brook

Andreas Schmittner

Karl J Kreutz

During the last glacial period atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature in Antarctica varied in a similar fashion on millennial time scales, but previous work indicates that these changes were gradual. In a detailed analysis of one event we now find that approximately half of the CO2 increase that occurred during the 1500-year cold period between Dansgaard-Oeschger (DO) events 8 and 9 happened rapidly, over less than two centuries. This rise in CO2 was synchronous with, or slightly later than, a rapid increase of Antarctic temperature inferred from stable isotopes.

Received 6 July 2012; accepted 23 August 2012.

Citation: Ahn, J., E. Brook, A. Schmittner, and K. J. Kreutz (2012), Abrupt change in atmospheric CO2 during the last ice age, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2012GL053018, in press.