- Number 319 |
- August 30, 2010
Large CO2 release speeds up ice age melting
Melting Ice Cubes
Radiocarbon dating is used to determine the age of everything from ancient artifacts to prehistoric corals on the ocean bottom.
But in a recent study appearing in the Aug. 26 edition of the journal, Nature, a scientist from DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and his colleagues used the method to trace the pathway of carbon dioxide released from the deep ocean to the atmosphere at the end of the last ice age.
The team noticed that a rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations coincided with a reduced amount of carbon-14 relative to carbon-12 (the two isotopes of carbon that are used for carbon dating and are referred to as radiocarbon) in the atmosphere.
“This suggests that there was a release of very ‘old’ or low 14/12CO2 from the deep ocean to the atmosphere during the end of the last ice age,” said Tom Guilderson, an author on the paper and a scientist at LLNL’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. The study suggests that CO2 release may speed up the melting following an ice age.
[Anne M. Stark, 925-422-9799,