Role of marine biology in glacial-interglacial CO2 cycles

Karen E. Kohfeld*, Corinne Le Quéré, Sandy P. Harrison, Robert F. Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

276 Citations (Scopus)


It has been hypothesized that changes in the marine biological pump caused a major portion of the glacial reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide by 80 to 100 parts per million through increased iron fertilization of marine plankton, increased ocean nutrient content or utilization, or shifts in dominant plankton types. We analyze sedimentary records of marine productivity at the peak and the middle of the last glacial cycle and show that neither changes in nutrient utilization in the Southern Ocean nor shifts in plankton dominance explain the CO2 drawdown. Iron fertilization and associated mechanisms can be responsible for no more than half the observed drawdown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-78
Number of pages5
Issue number5718
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2005

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    Kohfeld, K. E., Le Quéré, C., Harrison, S. P., & Anderson, R. F. (2005). Role of marine biology in glacial-interglacial CO2 cycles. Science, 308(5718), 74-78.