Influence of export rain ratio changes on atmospheric CO2 and sedimentary calcite preservation

Megumi O. Chikamoto, Katsumi Matsumoto, Yasuhiro Yamanaka

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The responses of atmospheric pCO2 and sediment calcite content to changes in the export rain ratio of calcium carbonate to organic carbon are examined using a diffusion-advection ocean biogeochemical model coupled to a one-dimensional sediment geochemistry model. Our model shows that a 25% reduction in rain ratio decreases atmospheric pCO2 by 59 ppm. This is caused by alkalinity redistribution by a weakened carbonate pump and an alkalinity increase in the whole ocean via carbonate compensation with decreasing calcite burial. The steady state responses of sedimentary calcite content and calcite preservation efficiency are rather insensitive to the deepening of the saturation horizon of 1.9 km. This insensitivity is a result of the reduced deposition flux that decreases calcite burial, counteracting the saturation horizon deepening that increases calcite burial. However, in the first 10,000 years the effect of reduced calcite deposition on the burial change is more prominent; while after 10,000 years, the effect of saturation horizon deepening is more dominant. The lowering of sediment calcite content for the first 10,000 years is effectively decoupled from the 1.9 km downward shift of the saturation horizon. Our results are in part a consequence of the more dominant role that respiration CO2 plays in sediment calcite dissolution over bottom water chemistry in our control run and support the decoupling of calcite lysocline depth and saturation horizon shifts, as suggested originally by Archer and Maier-Reimer (1994) and Archer et al. (2000).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 24 2009


  • Ocean carbon cycle
  • Rain ratio hypothesis
  • Sedimentary calcite preservation


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