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Late quaternary variations of elemental ratios (C/Si and N/Si) in diatom-bound organic matter from the Southern Ocean

Abstract : The carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean is considered as a major factor controlling past atmospheric CO 2 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 (%C diat and %N diat, 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 %C diat and %N diat 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 pCO 2 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.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 24, 2022 - 5:03:49 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 25, 2022 - 3:57:30 AM

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Xavier Crosta, Aldo Shemesh, Marie-Eve Salvignac, Hezi Gildor, Ruth Yam. Late quaternary variations of elemental ratios (C/Si and N/Si) in diatom-bound organic matter from the Southern Ocean. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 2002, 49, pp.1939-1952. ⟨10.1016/S0967-0645(02)00019-X⟩. ⟨insu-03619007⟩

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