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Carbonate chemistry, carbon cycle and climate change

Acronym: 6C
Period: November 2002 till October 2006
Status: Completed

Institutes (5)  Top 
  • Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar- and Marine Research (AWI), more, co-ordinator
  • University of Southampton (SOTON), more, partner
  • Universität Münster, more, partner
  • Université de Liège (ULG), more, partner
  • Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee (NIOZ), more, partner

Problems to be solved
The mechanism(s) responsible for lower atmospheric pCO2 during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and
possible feedbacks with climate change are still unresolved. Without a properly implemented natural
relationship between the global carbon cycle and climate change, model predictions of future climate scenarios
due to anthropogenic CO2 release are doomed to fail.

Among the most important challenges remaining to be addressed by Quaternary paleoceanographers is the
mechanism responsible for lowering pCO2 during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and possible feedback
mechanisms with climate change. Our main objective is to use a multi-proxy approach in order to reconstruct
the oceanic carbonate chemistry over the past 130,000 years. In combination with numerical models this will
allow us to 1) distinguish the mechanisms that control the operation of the oceanic carbon cycle, 2) identify
water masses as sinks or sources of atmospheric CO2 and hence, 3) better constrain the role and the impact of
the carbon cycle on climate oscillations. Knowledge of the nature and amplitude of natural fluctuations in the
past are a precondition to assess the stability of modern subsystems and their potential range of variations in
the future.

The overall objective of 6C is to hind-cast the processes that control the natural inter-relationship between the
variation in atmospheric pCO2 and climate change on glacial-interglacial (G-IG) time scales (by reconstructing
temporal and spatial changes in the ocean carbonate chemistry) and to quantify and predict changes in
atmospheric pCO2 on anthropogenic time scales (by quantifying the negative feed-back of pelagic calcifiers).

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