The carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean is considered as a major factor controlling past atmospheric CO2 concentration variations. However, accumulation rates of biogenic opal are not linearly related to carbon burial rates. Here, we show that it is possible to measure the carbon and nitrogen content of diatom-bound organic matter (%Cdiat and %Ndiat, respectively) and that the signals recorded do not appear to be analytical artifacts. Analyses of two cores from the Atlantic and Indian sectors of the Southern Ocean show that %Cdiat and %Ndiat change on glacial-interglacial cycles by 30-40% and 120-175%, respectively. Accordingly, C/N ratios vary between 3 and 7 on glacial-interglacial timescales. If changes recorded in the occluded organic matter are representative of the changes in the diatom bulk organic matter, this provides a new tool to document the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean and to determine its role on past atmospheric pCO2 variations. Laboratory experiments on diatom cultures are needed to validate the use of diatom organic bound C and N as a tracer of diatom physiology and of carbon export from surface waters.
|Original language||American English|
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography|
|State||Published - 2002|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank David Hodell and D. Paillard for constructive discussions, Lloyd Burckle and two other reviewers for helpful comments that improved the manuscript. We also thank people from SO136 TASQWA cruise, especially Elisa Laurent for recovering the samples. Oxygen isotope analyses were performed in Gif sur Yvette, France. Financial support for this research was provided by European TMR Program, Feinberg Fellowship Program (BSF Israel-US Binational Science Foundation), CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), PNEDC (Programme National d’Etude de la Dynamique du Climat), and Missions Scientifiques des Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (IFRTP-TAAF). This is DGO contribution No. 1398.