A spike of CO2 in the atmosphere at glacial-interglacial boundaries induced by rapid deposition of manganese in the oceans

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MANGINI, A. ; EISENHAUER, A. ; WALTER, P. (2011)

The model presented here provides an explanation of the rapid response of atmospheric CO2 to increasing solar insolation. In the glacial ocean, during periods of slow, deep water renewal, when less oxygen is supplied to the deep ocean and into sediments, manganese oxide in the sediments is reduced and forms soluble MnCO3 and stays in the water column. The dissolved Mn-carbonate should then reach a concentration of ≥ 10µMol/liter, approximately 5,000 to 104 times larger than it is at present. This is the mode prevailing until deep water formation at high latitudes starts again. As soon as the balance between oxygen and organic matter becomes oxidizing once more, the deposition of MnO2 recommences. Oxidation of dissolved Mn2+CO3 to Mn4+O2 which is a spike of acidity to the ocean, rapidly lowers the CO3-- concentration in the water column and enhances release of CO2 to the atmosphere, producing the observed events of CO2 increase at the transitions from glacials to interglacials. The surprising conclusion is that the oceanic (redox-) cycle of a minor element may have had a major impact on Earth's climate.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.1991.t01-1-00004.x
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