Southern Hemisphere westerlies as a driver of the early deglacial atmospheric CO2 rise

L. Menviel*, P. Spence, J. Yu, M. A. Chamberlain, R. J. Matear, K. J. Meissner, M. H. England

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)
    9 Downloads (Pure)


    The early part of the last deglaciation is characterised by a ~40 ppm atmospheric CO2 rise occurring in two abrupt phases. The underlying mechanisms driving these increases remain a subject of intense debate. Here, we successfully reproduce changes in CO2, δ 13C and Δ14C as recorded by paleo-records during Heinrich stadial 1 (HS1). We show that HS1 CO2 increase can be explained by enhanced Southern Ocean upwelling of carbon-rich Pacific deep and intermediate waters, resulting from intensified Southern Ocean convection and Southern Hemisphere (SH) westerlies. While enhanced Antarctic Bottom Water formation leads to a millennial CO2 outgassing, intensified SH westerlies induce a multi-decadal atmospheric CO2 rise. A strengthening of SH westerlies in a global eddy-permitting ocean model further supports a multi-decadal CO2 outgassing from the Southern Ocean. Our results highlight the crucial role of SH westerlies in the global climate and carbon cycle system with important implications for future climate projections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2503
    Number of pages12
    JournalNature Communications
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    Dive into the research topics of 'Southern Hemisphere westerlies as a driver of the early deglacial atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> rise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this