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    Paleothermometers

Climate Change

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human civilisation, but determining future climate scenarios can only be built on the foundation of what we know has happened before. From understanding the variability in Earth’s climate and the possible mechanisms which drive global climate cycles, scientists have been able to develop highly sophisticated models of our future climate and are delivering crucial information to the public and government about the possible consequences of anthropogenic activity.

Stable isotope analysis works as a virtual paleo-thermometer, allowing readings of past earth temperatures in a variety of materials such as micro-fossils, ice cores and tree rings. By combining this temperature information and extrapolating into the future, we maybe able to avoid the worst outcomes and stable isotope analysis will play a crucial role in helping us do this.

Carbonate Materials

Climate signals are found throughout the seabed in the form of sedimented carbonate materials from ancient biota. The 13C and 18O isotope ratios of these materials a directly related to the ocean temperature at the time of their existence. Our Dual Inlet inlet system equipped the MultiCarb is capable of the highest precision 13C and 18O analysis of extremely small samples, as well as offering exciting new "clumped isotope" analysis.

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Ice core water analysis

The isotopic ratio of precipitation is fundamentally dependent on the temperature of the oceans it evaporates from. Ice cores from the arctic and antarctic polar regions have been recording the isotope variation for millennia making it possible to determine the temperature at the time that the ice was laid down. Our AquaPrep is able to perform the highest 18O and 2H analysis compared to any other technique, reducing uncertainty in your temperature proxy calculations.

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Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are major drivers for climate change. Decoupling the anthropogenic contribution of these gases to the atmosphere from those that are the result of natural processes is vital if we are to understand the mechanisms for climate change. Using iso FLOW, you can investigate the isotopic ratios of the main greenhouse gases CO2, N2O and CH4 in atmospheric gas samples to help develop strategies to cope with climate change.

Climate change publications using our instruments

Our customers use our instruments to do some amazing research in the climate change application field. To show you how they perform their research and how they use our IRMS instruments, we have collected a range of peer-reviewed publications which cite our products. You can find the citations below and then follow the links to the publishing journal should you wish to download the publication.

If you would like to investigate our available citations in more detail, or email the citation list to yourself or your colleagues then take a look at our full citation database.

115 results:

Source identification and distribution reveals the potential of the geochemical Antarctic sea ice proxy IPSO25
Nature Communications (2016)
S. T. Belt, L. Smik, T. A. Brown, J.-H. Kim, S. J. Rowland, C. S. Allen, J.-K. Gal, K.-H. Shin, J. I. Lee, K. W. R. Taylor, C. Parkinson, D. Cavalieri, J. Turner, S. Stammerjohn, R. Massom, D. Rind, D. Martinson, J. Turner, T. J. Bracegirdle, T. Phillips,

The presence of a di-unsaturated highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) lipid biomarker (diene II) in Southern Ocean sediments has previously been proposed as a proxy measure of palaeo Antarctic sea ice. Here we show that a source of diene II is the sympagic diatom Berkeleya adeliensis Medlin. Furthermore, the propensity for B. adeliensis to flourish in platelet ice is reflected by an offshore downward gradient in diene II concentration in >100 surface sediments from Antarctic coastal and near-coastal environments. Since platelet ice formation is strongly associated with super-cooled freshwater inflow, we further hypothesize that sedimentary diene II provides a potentially sensitive proxy indicator of landfast sea ice influenced by meltwater discharge from nearby glaciers and ice shelves, and re-examination of some previous diene II downcore records supports this hypothesis. The term IPSO25—Ice Proxy for the Southern Ocean with 25 carbon atoms—is proposed as a proxy name for diene II.

Sensitivity of soil carbon fractions and their specific stabilization mechanisms to extreme soil warming in a subarctic grassland
Global Change Biology (2016)
Christopher Poeplau, Thomas Kätterer, Niki I. W. Leblans, Bjarni D. Sigurdsson

Terrestrial carbon cycle feedbacks to global warming are major uncertainties in climate models. For in-depth understanding of changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) after soil warming, long-term responses of SOC stabilization mechanisms such as aggregation, organo-mineral interactions and chemical recalcitrance need to be addressed. This study investigated the effect of 6 years of geothermal soil warming on different SOC fractions in an unmanaged grassland in Iceland. Along an extreme warming gradient of +0 to ~+40 °C, we isolated five fractions of SOC that varied conceptually in turnover rate from active to passive in the following order: particulate organic matter (POM), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), SOC in sand and stable aggregates (SA), SOC in silt and clay (SC-rSOC) and resistant SOC (rSOC). Soil warming of 0.6 °C increased bulk SOC by 22 ± 43% (0–10 cm soil layer) and 27 ± 54% (20–30 cm), while further warming led to exponential SOC depletion of up to 79 ± 14% (0–10 cm) and 74 ± 8% (20–30) in the most warmed plots (~+40 °C). Only the SA fraction was more sensitive than the bulk soil, with 93 ± 6% (0–10 cm) and 86 ± 13% (20–30 cm) SOC losses and the highest relative enrichment in 13C as an indicator for the degree of decomposition (+1.6 ± 1.5‰ in 0–10 cm and +1.3 ± 0.8‰ in 20–30 cm). The SA fraction mass also declined along the warming gradient, while the SC fraction mass increased. This was explained by deactivation of aggregate-binding mechanisms. There was no difference between the responses of SC-rSOC (slow-cycling) and rSOC (passive) to warming, and 13C enrichment in rSOC was equal to that in bulk soil. We concluded that the sensitivity of SOC to warming was not a function of age or chemical recalcitrance, but triggered by changes in biophysical stabilization mechanisms, such as aggregation.
Tags: carbon , soil , clim , elem

Clumped isotope composition of cold-water corals: A role for vital effects?
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2016)
Peter T. Spooner, Weifu Guo, Laura F. Robinson, Nivedita Thiagarajan, Katharine R. Hendry, Brad E. Rosenheim, Melanie J. Leng

The carbonate clumped isotope thermometer is a promising tool for determining past ocean temperatures. It is based on the temperature dependence of rare isotopes ‘clumping’ into the same carbonate ion group in the carbonate mineral lattice. The extent of this clumping effect is independent of the isotope composition of the water from which carbonate precipitates, providing unique advantages over many other paleotemperature proxies. Existing calibrations of this thermometer in cold-water and warm-water corals suggest clumped isotope ‘vital effects’ are negligible in cold-water corals but may be significant in warm-water corals. Here, we test the calibration of the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer in cold-water corals with a recently collected and well characterised sample set spanning a range of coral genera (Balanophyllia, Caryophyllia, Dasmosmilia, Desmophyllum, Enallopsammia and Javania). The clumped isotope compositions (Δ47) of these corals exhibit systematic dependences on their growth temperatures, confirming the basis of the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer. However, some cold-water coral genera show Δ47 values that are higher than the expected equilibrium values by up to 0.05‰ (equivalent to underestimating temperature by ∼9°C) similar to previous findings for some warm-water corals. This finding suggests that the vital effects affecting corals Δ47 are common to both warm- and cold-water corals. By comparison with models of the coral calcification process we suggest that the clumped isotope offsets in these genera are related to the kinetic isotope effects associated with CO2 hydration/hydroxylation reactions in the corals’ calcifying fluid. Our findings complicate the use of the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer in corals, but suggest that species- or genus-specific calibrations could be useful for the future application of this paleotemperature proxy.

North Atlantic forcing of moisture delivery to Europe throughout the Holocene
Scientific Reports (2016)
Andrew C. Smith, Peter M. Wynn, Philip A. Barker, Melanie J. Leng, Stephen R. Noble, Wlodek Tych, A. Baker, C. Hellstrom, J. Kelly, G. B. F. J. Mariethoz, V. Trouet, W. J. Fletcher, M. Debret, M. F. Sanchez Goni, G. Bond, J. W. Hurrell, G. H. Denton, W. K

Century-to-millennial scale fluctuations in precipitation and temperature are an established feature of European Holocene climates. Changes in moisture delivery are driven by complex interactions between ocean moisture sources and atmospheric circulation modes, making it difficult to resolve the drivers behind millennial scale variability in European precipitation. Here, we present two overlapping decadal resolution speleothem oxygen isotope (δ18O) records from a cave on the Atlantic coastline of northern Iberia, covering the period 12.1–0 ka. Speleothem δ18O reveals nine quasi-cyclical events of relatively wet-to-dry climatic conditions during the Holocene. Dynamic Harmonic Regression modelling indicates that changes in precipitation occurred with a ~1500 year frequency during the late Holocene and at a shorter length during the early Holocene. The timing of these cycles coincides with changes in North Atlantic Ocean conditions, indicating a connectivity between ocean conditions and Holocene moisture delivery. Early Holocene climate is potentially dominated by freshwater outburst events, whilst ~1500 year cycles in the late Holocene are more likely driven by changes internal to the ocean system. This is the first continental record of its type that clearly demonstrates millennial scale connectivity between the pulse of the ocean and precipitation over Europe through the entirety of the Holocene.
Tags: oxygen , clim , mulitcarb

Mid Pleistocene foraminiferal mass extinction coupled with phytoplankton evolution
Nature Communications (2016)
Sev Kender, Erin L. McClymont, Aurora C. Elmore, Dario Emanuele, Melanie J. Leng, Henry Elderfield, P. U. Clark, H. Elderfield, E. L. McClymont, S. M. Sosdian, A. Rosell-Melé, Y. Rosenthal, B. W. Hayward, B. W. Hayward, S. Hess, W. Kuhnt, E. Thomas, N. Ma

Understanding the interaction between climate and biotic evolution is crucial for deciphering the sensitivity of life. An enigmatic mass extinction occurred in the deep oceans during the Mid Pleistocene, with a loss of over 100 species (20%) of sea floor calcareous foraminifera. An evolutionarily conservative group, benthic foraminifera often comprise >50% of eukaryote biomass on the deep-ocean floor. Here we test extinction hypotheses (temperature, corrosiveness and productivity) in the Tasman Sea, using geochemistry and micropalaeontology, and find evidence from several globally distributed sites that the extinction was caused by a change in phytoplankton food source. Coccolithophore evolution may have enhanced the seasonal ‘bloom’ nature of primary productivity and fundamentally shifted it towards a more intra-annually variable state at ∼0.8 Ma. Our results highlight intra-annual variability as a potential new consideration for Mid Pleistocene global biogeochemical climate models, and imply that deep-sea biota may be sensitive to future changes in productivity.
Tags: oxygen , clim , mulitcarb

Methane oxidation coupled to oxygenic photosynthesis in anoxic waters
The ISME Journal (2015)
Jana Milucka, Mathias Kirf, Lu Lu, Andreas Krupke, Phyllis Lam, Sten Littmann, Marcel Mm Kuypers, Carsten J Schubert

Freshwater lakes represent large methane sources that, in contrast to the Ocean, significantly contribute to non-anthropogenic methane emissions to the atmosphere. Particularly mixed lakes are major methane emitters, while permanently and seasonally stratified lakes with anoxic bottom waters are often characterized by strongly reduced methane emissions. The causes for this reduced methane flux from anoxic lake waters are not fully understood. Here we identified the microorganisms and processes responsible for the near complete consumption of methane in the anoxic waters of a permanently stratified lake, Lago di Cadagno. Interestingly, known anaerobic methanotrophs could not be detected in these waters. Instead, we found abundant gamma-proteobacterial aerobic methane-oxidizing bacteria active in the anoxic waters. In vitro incubations revealed that, among all the tested potential electron acceptors, only the addition of oxygen enhanced the rates of methane oxidation. An equally pronounced stimulation was also observed when the anoxic water samples were incubated in the light. Our combined results from molecular, biogeochemical and single-cell analyses indicate that methane removal at the anoxic chemocline of Lago di Cadagno is due to true aerobic oxidation of methane fuelled by in situ oxygen production by photosynthetic algae. A similar mechanism could be active in seasonally stratified lakes and marine basins such as the Black Sea, where light penetrates to the anoxic chemocline. Given the widespread occurrence of seasonally stratified anoxic lakes, aerobic methane oxidation coupled to oxygenic photosynthesis might have an important but so far neglected role in methane emissions from lakes.

Jurassic climate mode governed by ocean gateway
Nature Communications (2015)
Christoph Korte, Stephen P. Hesselbo, Clemens V. Ullmann, Gerd Dietl, Micha Ruhl, Günter Schweigert, Nicolas Thibault

The Jurassic (~201–145 Myr ago) was long considered a warm ‘greenhouse’ period; more recently cool, even ‘icehouse’ episodes have been postulated. However, the mechanisms governing transition between so-called Warm Modes and Cool Modes are poorly known. Here we present a new large high-quality oxygen-isotope dataset from an interval that includes previously suggested mode transitions. Our results show an especially abrupt earliest Middle Jurassic (~174 Ma) mid-latitude cooling of seawater by as much as 10 °C in the north–south Laurasian Seaway, a marine passage that connected the equatorial Tethys Ocean to the Boreal Sea. Coincidence in timing with large-scale regional lithospheric updoming of the North Sea region is striking, and we hypothesize that northward oceanic heat transport was impeded by uplift, triggering Cool Mode conditions more widely. This extreme climate-mode transition provides a counter-example to other Mesozoic transitions linked to quantitative change in atmospheric greenhouse gas content.
Tags: carbon , oxygen , geol , clim , mulitcarb

The interaction of biotic and abiotic factors at multiple spatial scales affects the variability of CO2 fluxes in polar environments
Polar Biology (2015)
N. Cannone, A. Augusti, F. Malfasi, E. Pallozzi, C. Calfapietra, E. Brugnoli

Climate change may turn Arctic biomes from carbon sinks into sources and vice versa, depending on the balance between gross ecosystem photosynthesis, ecosystem respiration (ER) and the resulting net ecosystem exchange (NEE). Photosynthetic capacity is species specific, and thus, it is important to quantify the contribution of different target plant species to NEE and ER. At Ny Ålesund (Svalbard archipelago, Norway), we selected different Arctic tundra plant species and measured CO2 fluxes at plot scale and photosynthetic capacity at leaf scale. We aimed to analyze trends in CO2 fluxes during the transition seasons (beginning vs. end of the growing season) and assess which abiotic (soil temperature, soil moisture, PAR) and biotic (plot type, phenology, LAI, photosynthetic capacity) factors influenced CO2 emissions. NEE and ER differed between vegetation communities. All communities acted as CO2 sources, with higher source strength at the beginning than at the end of the growing season. The key factors affecting NEE were soil temperature, LAI and species-specific photosynthetic capacities, coupled with phenology. ER was always influenced by soil temperature. Measurements of photosynthetic capacity indicated different responses among species to light intensity, as well as suggesting possible gains in response to future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Species-specific adaptation to low temperatures could trigger significant feedbacks in a climate change context. Our data highlight the need to quantify the role of dominant species in the C cycle (sinks or sources), as changes of vegetation composition or species phenology in response to climate change may have great impact on the regional CO2 balance.
Tags: carbon , geol , clim , elem

ISOTOPIC ANALYSIS OF JURASSIC ( CALLOVIAN ) MOLLUSKS FROM THE CHRISTIAN MALFORD ¨ TTE ( UK ): IMPLICATIONS FOR OCEAN WATER TEMPERATURE ESTIMATES BASED ON BELEMNOIDS
PALAIOS (2015)
Gregory D Price, Malcolm B Hart, Philip R Wilby, Kevin N Page

Isotopic data (C and O) derived from Callovian (Middle Jurassic) mollusks (bivalves, ammonites and belemnoids, including true belemnites and Belemnotheutis) are presented from a narrow stratigraphic interval in the Christian Malford Lagerstätte, UK. The exceptionally well-preserved mollusks include aragonite-calcite pairs precipitated by individual belemnite animals that enable an assessment of possible “vital” effects and the reliability of using belemnite calcite to determine ocean water compositions. The oxygen isotope data derived from the calcitic rostra of the belemnites (Cylindroteuthis) show modest variability, ranging from −1.2 to 0.9‰ (V-PDB), while their accompanying aragonitic phragmocones range from −1.4 to 0.0‰. Data derived from the ammonite Kosmoceras show some scatter, with oxygen isotope values varying from −3.6 to −0.2‰. The aragonite data from Cylindroteuthis, Kosmoceras and Belemnotheutis all overlap, suggesting they inhabited similar (surface) water depths. However, the corresponding data from the calcitic rostra of the Cylindroteuthis specimens suggest temperatures ∼ 5°C cooler. As we have analyzed aragonite-calcite pairs, the discrepancy cannot be explained by environmental effects. Though clearly a vital effect, it is difficult to resolve whether the temperatures derived from the aragonite (phragmocone) are too warm or from the calcite (rostrum) are too cool. Consequently, the applicability of standard paleotemperature equations to Cylindroteuthid belemnite rostra remains unproven. Sequentially sampled ontogenetic isotope data derived from Belemnotheutis phragmocones reveal only modest δ18O variation, consistent with limited movement between warmer (shallower) and cooler (deeper) waters. A coincidental systematic pattern of δ13C enrichment may signal changes in metabolic activity associated with a shift in ecology or feeding with age
Tags: carbon , oxygen , geol , clim , gashead

CO2 Emission from Geothermal Power Plants in Turkey
Proceedings World Geothermal Congress 2015 (2015)
Niyazi Aksoy, Ozge Solak Gok, Halim Mutlu, Gizem Kılınc

Geothermal energy has been accepted as a clean and sustainable source of energy. However, the emission of dissolved CO2 from geothermal water becomes more of an issue recently. Emissions from Turkish geothermal fields amounts to 1800 gr/kWh which is nearly two times more than the emission of coal burning plants. High CO2 emissions can cost the geothermal energy sector carbon taxes of up to 4.5 ¢/kWh. The present study discusses CO2 emissions from geothermal-based power plants in accordance with the data obtained from the plants and literature.
Tags: carbon , clim , gaschrom