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Atmospheric CO2 consumption by continental erosion : present-day controls and implications for the last glacial maximum

Ludwig, Wolfgang and Amiotte Suchet, Philippe and Munhoven, Guy and Probst, Jean-Luc Atmospheric CO2 consumption by continental erosion : present-day controls and implications for the last glacial maximum. (1998) Global and Planetary Change, 19-17. 107-120. ISSN 0921-8181

(Document in English)

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8181(98)00016-2


The export of carbon from land to sea by rivers represents a major link in the global carbon cycle. For all principal carbon forms, the main factors that control the present-day fluxes at the global scale have been determined in order to establish global budgets and to predict regional fluxes. Dissolved organic carbon fluxes are mainly related to drainage intensity, basin slope, and the amount of carbon stored in soils. Particulate organic carbon fluxes are calculated as a function of sediment yields and of drainage intensity. The consumption of atmospheric/soil CO2 by chemical rock weathering depends mainly on the rock type and on the drainage intensity. Our empirical models yield a total of 0.721 Gt of carbon (Gt C) that is exported from the continents to the oceans each year. From this figure, 0.096 Gt C come from carbonate mineral dissolution and the remaining 0.625 Gt C stem from the atmosphere (FCO2). Of this atmospheric carbon, 33% is discharged as dissolved organic carbon, 30% as particulate organic carbon, and 37% as bicarbonate ions. Predicted inorganic carbon fluxes were further compared with observed fluxes for a set of 35 major world rivers, and possible additional climatic effects on the consumption of atmospheric CO2 by rock weathering were investigated in these river basins. Finally, we discuss the implications of our results for the river carbon fluxes and the role of continental erosion in the global carbon cycle during the last glacial maximum.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Elsevier editor. The definitive version is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com The original PDF of the article can be found at Global and Planetary Change website : http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/503335/description#description
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université Louis Pasteur-Strasbourg I - ULP (FRANCE)
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Deposited On:21 Jan 2011 14:56

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