Orbital forcing of the Paleocene and Eocene carbon cycle
American Geophysical Union
Reason for embargo
Multimillion-year proxy records across the Paleocene and Eocene show prominent variations on orbital time scales. The cycles, which have been identified at various sites across the globe, preferentially concentrate spectral power at eccentricity and precessional frequencies. It is evident that these cycles are an expression of changes in global climate and carbon cycling paced by astronomical forcing. However, little is currently known about the link between orbital forcing and the carbon cycle-climate system and the amplitude of associated atmospheric CO2 variations. Here we use simple and complex carbon cycle models to explore the basic effect of different orbital forcing schemes and noise on the carbon cycle. Our primary modeling target is the high-resolution, ∼7.7 Myr long, benthic isotope record at Ocean Drilling Program Site 1262 in the South Atlantic. For direct insolation forcing (as opposed to artificial eccentricity-tilt-precession), one major challenge is understanding how the system transfers spectral power from high to low frequencies. We discuss feasible solutions, including insolation transformations analogous to electronic AC-DC conversion (DC’ing). Regarding mechanisms, we focus on tropical insolation and a long-term carbon imbalance in terrestrial organic burial/oxidation but do not rule out other scenarios. Our analysis shows that high-latitude mechanisms are unlikely drivers of orbitally paced changes in the late Paleocene-early Eocene (LPEE) Earth system. Furthermore, we provide constraints on the origin and isotopic composition of a possible LPEE cyclic carbon imbalance/source responding to astronomical forcing. Our simulations also reveal a mechanism for the large 𝛿13C-eccentricity lag at the 400 kyr period observed in Paleocene, Oligocene, and Miocene sections. We present the first estimates of orbital-scale variations in atmospheric CO2 during the late Paleocene and early Eocene
This research was supported by U.S. NSF grants OCE12-20615 and OCE16-58023 to R.E.Z. and J.C.Z. and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to T.W.
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.