Glacial weathering, sulfide oxidation, and global carbon cycle feedbacks.

Torres, Mark A., Moosdorf, Nils, Hartmann, Jens, Adkins, Jess F. and West, A. Joshua (2017) Glacial weathering, sulfide oxidation, and global carbon cycle feedbacks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 114 (33). pp. 8716-8721. DOI 10.1073/pnas.1702953114.

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Abstract

Connections between glaciation, chemical weathering, and the global carbon cycle could steer the evolution of global climate over geologic time, but even the directionality of feedbacks in this system remain to be resolved. Here, we assemble a compilation of hydrochemical data from glacierized catchments, use this data to evaluate the dominant chemical reactions associated with glacial weathering, and explore the implications for long-term geochemical cycles. Weathering yields from catchments in our compilation are higher than the global average, which results, in part, from higher runoff in glaciated catchments. Our analysis supports the theory that glacial weathering is characterized predominantly by weathering of trace sulfide and carbonate minerals. To evaluate the effects of glacial weathering on atmospheric pCO2, we use a solute mixing model to predict the ratio of alkalinity to dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) generated by weathering reactions. Compared with nonglacial weathering, glacial weathering is more likely to yield alkalinity/DIC ratios less than 1, suggesting that enhanced sulfide oxidation as a result of glaciation may act as a source of CO2 to the atmosphere. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that oxidative fluxes could change ocean–atmosphere CO2 equilibrium by 25 ppm or more over 10 ky. Over longer timescales, CO2 release could act as a negative feedback, limiting progress of glaciation, dependent on lithology and the concentration of atmospheric O2. Future work on glaciation–weathering–carbon cycle feedbacks should consider weathering of trace sulfide minerals in addition to silicate minerals.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: weathering; carbon cycle; glaciation; oxidation; sulfide
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1073/pnas.1702953114
ISSN: 0027-8424
Projects: PalMod
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2018 11:15
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2018 11:15
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/44282

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