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Climate sensitivity to the carbon cycle modulated by past and future changes in ocean chemistry

Climate sensitivity to the carbon cycle modulated by past and future changes in ocean chemistry
Climate sensitivity to the carbon cycle modulated by past and future changes in ocean chemistry
The carbon cycle has a central role in climate change. For example, during glacial–interglacial cycles, atmospheric carbon dioxide has altered radiative forcing and amplified temperature changes. However, it is unclear how sensitive the climate system has been to changes in carbon cycling in previous geological periods, or how this sensitivity may evolve in the future, following massive anthropogenic emissions. Here we develop an analytical relationship that links the variation of radiative forcing from changes in carbon dioxide concentrations with changes in air–sea carbon cycling on a millennial timescale. We find that this relationship is affected by the ocean storage of carbon and its chemical partitioning in sea water. Our analysis reveals that the radiative forcing of climate is more sensitive to carbon perturbations now than it has been over much of the preceding 400 million years. This high sensitivity is likely to persist into the future as the oceans become more acidic and the bulk of the fossil-fuels inventory is transferred to the ocean and atmosphere.
1752-0894
145-150
Goodwin, Philip
87dbb154-5c39-473a-8121-c794487ee1fd
Williams, Richard G.
2155309e-1c07-4365-b46a-04baeb2fb63c
Ridgwell, Andy
769cea5c-e033-456a-8b53-51dfa307dc35
Follows, Michael J.
12c723bc-f2f8-43f4-a309-bff6885b9c7c
Goodwin, Philip
87dbb154-5c39-473a-8121-c794487ee1fd
Williams, Richard G.
2155309e-1c07-4365-b46a-04baeb2fb63c
Ridgwell, Andy
769cea5c-e033-456a-8b53-51dfa307dc35
Follows, Michael J.
12c723bc-f2f8-43f4-a309-bff6885b9c7c

Goodwin, Philip, Williams, Richard G., Ridgwell, Andy and Follows, Michael J. (2009) Climate sensitivity to the carbon cycle modulated by past and future changes in ocean chemistry. Nature Geoscience, 2 (2), 145-150. (doi:10.1038/ngeo416).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The carbon cycle has a central role in climate change. For example, during glacial–interglacial cycles, atmospheric carbon dioxide has altered radiative forcing and amplified temperature changes. However, it is unclear how sensitive the climate system has been to changes in carbon cycling in previous geological periods, or how this sensitivity may evolve in the future, following massive anthropogenic emissions. Here we develop an analytical relationship that links the variation of radiative forcing from changes in carbon dioxide concentrations with changes in air–sea carbon cycling on a millennial timescale. We find that this relationship is affected by the ocean storage of carbon and its chemical partitioning in sea water. Our analysis reveals that the radiative forcing of climate is more sensitive to carbon perturbations now than it has been over much of the preceding 400 million years. This high sensitivity is likely to persist into the future as the oceans become more acidic and the bulk of the fossil-fuels inventory is transferred to the ocean and atmosphere.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 18 January 2009
Published date: 2009
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 350512
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/350512
ISSN: 1752-0894
PURE UUID: e8c52b86-ec93-4e74-9e1b-59ac98699116
ORCID for Philip Goodwin: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2575-8948

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Mar 2013 10:15
Last modified: 01 Apr 2022 01:44

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Contributors

Author: Philip Goodwin ORCID iD
Author: Richard G. Williams
Author: Andy Ridgwell
Author: Michael J. Follows

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