Influence of Equatorial Diatom Processes on Si Deposition and Atmospheric CO2 Cycles at Glacial/Interglacial Timescales

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The causes of the glacial cycle remain unknown, although the primary driver is changes in atmospheric CO2, likely controlled by the biological pump and biogeochemical cycles. The two most important regions of the ocean for exchange of CO2 with the atmosphere are the equatorial Pacific and the Southern Ocean (SO), the former a net source and the latter a net sink under present conditions. The equatorial Pacific has been shown to be a Si(OH)4-limited ecosystem, a consequence of the low source Si(OH)4 concentrations in upwelled water that has its origin in the SO. This teleconnection for nutrients between the two regions suggests an oscillatory relationship that may influence or control glacial cycles. Opal mass accumulation rate (MAR) data and δ15N measurements in equatorial cores are interpreted with predictions from a one-dimensional Si(OH)4-limited ecosystem model (CoSINE) for the equatorial Pacific. The results suggest that equatorial Pacific surface CO2 processes are in opposite phase to that of the global atmosphere, providing a negative feedback to the glacial cycle. This negative feedback is implemented through the effect of the SO on the equatorial Si(OH)4 supply. An alternative hypothesis, that the whole ocean becomes Si(OH)4 poor during cooling periods, is suggested by low opal MAR in cores from both equatorial and Antarctic regions, perhaps as a result of low river input. terminations in this scenario would result from blooms of coccolithophorids triggered by low Si(OH)4 concentrations.