Slow release of fossil carbon during the palaeocene-eocene thermal maximum

Ying Cui, Lee R. Kump, Andy J. Ridgwell, Adam J. Charles, Christopher K. Junium, Aaron F. Diefendorf, Katherine H. Freeman, Nathan M. Urban, Ian C. Harding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

123 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The transient global warming event known as the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum occurred about 55.9 Myr ago. The warming was accompanied by a rapid shift in the isotopic signature of sedimentary carbonates, suggesting that the event was triggered by a massive release of carbon to the ocean-atmosphere system. However, the source, rate of emission and total amount of carbon involved remain poorly constrained. Here we use an expanded marine sedimentary section from Spitsbergen to reconstruct the carbon isotope excursion as recorded in marine organic matter. We find that the total magnitude of the carbon isotope excursion in the ocean-atmosphere system was about 4%. We then force an Earth system model of intermediate complexity to conform to our isotope record, allowing us to generate a continuous estimate of the rate of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Our simulations show that the peak rate of carbon addition was probably in the range of 0.3-1.7 Pg C yr-1, much slower than the present rate of carbon emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-485
Number of pages5
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2011

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Hypsithermal
Paleocene
Eocene
fossil
atmosphere-ocean system
carbon
carbon emission
carbon isotope
global warming
warming
isotope
carbonate
organic matter
rate
atmosphere
simulation

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Cui, Y., Kump, L. R., Ridgwell, A. J., Charles, A. J., Junium, C. K., Diefendorf, A. F., ... Harding, I. C. (2011). Slow release of fossil carbon during the palaeocene-eocene thermal maximum. Nature Geoscience, 4(7), 481-485. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1179
Cui, Ying ; Kump, Lee R. ; Ridgwell, Andy J. ; Charles, Adam J. ; Junium, Christopher K. ; Diefendorf, Aaron F. ; Freeman, Katherine H. ; Urban, Nathan M. ; Harding, Ian C. / Slow release of fossil carbon during the palaeocene-eocene thermal maximum. In: Nature Geoscience. 2011 ; Vol. 4, No. 7. pp. 481-485.
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Cui, Y, Kump, LR, Ridgwell, AJ, Charles, AJ, Junium, CK, Diefendorf, AF, Freeman, KH, Urban, NM & Harding, IC 2011, 'Slow release of fossil carbon during the palaeocene-eocene thermal maximum', Nature Geoscience, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 481-485. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1179

Slow release of fossil carbon during the palaeocene-eocene thermal maximum. / Cui, Ying; Kump, Lee R.; Ridgwell, Andy J.; Charles, Adam J.; Junium, Christopher K.; Diefendorf, Aaron F.; Freeman, Katherine H.; Urban, Nathan M.; Harding, Ian C.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 4, No. 7, 01.07.2011, p. 481-485.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Cui Y, Kump LR, Ridgwell AJ, Charles AJ, Junium CK, Diefendorf AF et al. Slow release of fossil carbon during the palaeocene-eocene thermal maximum. Nature Geoscience. 2011 Jul 1;4(7):481-485. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1179