Assessment of C, N, and Si Isotopes as Tracers of Past Ocean Nutrient and Carbon Cycling

Farmer, J. R.; Hertzberg, J. E.; Cardinal, D.; Fietz, S.; Hendry, K.; Jaccard, Samuel; Paytan, A.; Rafter, P. A.; Ren, H.; Somes, C. J.; Sutton, J. N. (2021). Assessment of C, N, and Si Isotopes as Tracers of Past Ocean Nutrient and Carbon Cycling. Global biogeochemical cycles, 35(7) American Geophysical Union 10.1029/2020GB006775

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Biological productivity in the ocean directly influences the partitioning of carbon between the atmosphere and ocean interior. Through this carbon cycle feedback, changing ocean productivity has long been hypothesized as a key pathway for modulating past atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and hence global climate. Because phytoplankton preferentially assimilate the light isotopes of carbon and the major nutrients nitrate and silicic acid, stable isotopes of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and silicon (Si) in seawater and marine sediments can inform on ocean carbon and nutrient cycling, and by extension the relationship with biological productivity and global climate. Here, we compile water column C, N, and Si stable isotopes from GEOTRACES-era data in four key ocean regions to review geochemical proxies of oceanic carbon and nutrient cycling based on the C, N, and Si isotopic composition of marine sediments. External sources and sinks as well as internal cycling (including assimilation, particulate matter export, and regeneration) are discussed as likely drivers of observed C, N, and Si isotope distributions in the ocean. The potential for C, N, and Si isotope measurements in sedimentary archives to record aspects of past ocean C and nutrient cycling is evaluated, along with key uncertainties and limitations associated with each proxy. Constraints on ocean C and nutrient cycling during late Quaternary glacial-interglacial cycles and over the Cenozoic are examined. This review highlights opportunities for future research using multielement stable isotope proxy applications and emphasizes the importance of such applications to reconstructing past changes in the oceans and climate system.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Jaccard, Samuel

Subjects:

500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

0886-6236

Publisher:

American Geophysical Union

Language:

English

Submitter:

Samuel Jaccard

Date Deposited:

08 Jul 2021 16:56

Last Modified:

08 Jul 2021 16:56

Publisher DOI:

10.1029/2020GB006775

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/157319

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/157319

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