Foraminifera Trace Anthropogenic CO2 in the NW Atlantic by 1950


The Northwest Atlantic is a region of major climate change over the twentieth century, affected by the weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. To assess whether the ability of this region to absorb anthropogenic CO2 has been impacted by this change, we present the region's first long‐term carbon isotope (δ13C) time series of fossil foraminifera spanning the past 4,000 years. These records reveal an unprecedented negative δ13C excursion driven by anthropogenic CO2 penetration into the surface ocean, the “Suess effect” signal. This signal (amplitude −0.45‰) emerges in 1950 CE ± 15 with a decrease rate of 0.009 ± 0.001‰/yr. This marine signal is ~30% of the atmospheric Suess effect and emerges over a century later. Based on current estimates of the ratio of δ13CDIC change to dissolved inorganic carbon change and limited constraints on surface ocean residence times, we calculate a mean anthropogenic CO2 uptake rate of 0.6 ± 0.2 μmol/(kg yr) from 1950 to 2005.
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