It has been found that super-slow circulation allowed the world’s oceans to accumulate large quantities of carbon in the previous Ice Age that occurred so many years ago.
When the last Ice Age was extant, the oceans transported huge amounts of heat, nutrients and carbon dioxide. That was 20,000 years ago. This is a piece of news that is radically different from the results of previous studies.
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The much colder oceans way back then engaged in slow circulation. This allowed the waterways to store tons of carbon. In modern times, the ocean does not have so much capacity.
The experts examined foraminifera, which are shells of diminutive animals. The ability of the Ice Age oceans to store carbon was noted down with precision. While carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were low during the Ice Age, it was supposed that the extra carbon had been absorbed by the oceans.
The slow circulation was a phenomenon which was studied. This was the exact reason for the storage of tons of carbon by the oceans way back then. As organisms from the top of the ocean died and sank to the bottom, their bodies decomposed. This released a lot of carbon in turn.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
How the extra CO2 in the atmosphere today will affect the oceans remains a moot point. The world’s oceans act like a giant transportation system. The warming and cooling of the oceans causes much of the changes found in them.
The complete cycle takes as much as a millennium to reach its completion. Radiocarbon techniques were used to determine the large concentration of carbon in the Ice Age oceans. In a separate study, isotopes in foraminifera shells were gauged to see how much carbon was stored in the ocean such a long time ago.
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The Atlantic Ocean was found to contain not only southern waters but northern ones as well. The slow circulation had worked its magic. The world was a much colder place during the last Ice Age. Scientists are just coming to grips with the conditions which prevailed so many eons ago.