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Direct evidence of the feedback between climate and weathering
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2009 (English)In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, ISSN 0012-821X, E-ISSN 1385-013X, Vol. 277, no 02-jan, 213-222 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Long-term climate moderation is commonly attributed to chemical weathering; the higher the temperature and precipitation the faster the weathering rate. Weathering releases divalent cations to the ocean via riverine transport where they promote the drawdown of CO2 from the atmosphere by the precipitation and subsequent burial of carbonate minerals. To test this widely-held hypothesis, we performed a field study determining the weathering rates of 8 nearly pristine north-eastern Iceland river catchments with varying glacial cover over 44 years. The mean annual temperature and annual precipitation of these catchments varied by 3.2 to 4.5 degrees C and 80 to 530%, respectively during the study period. Statistically significant linear positive correlations were found between mean annual temperature and chemical weathering in all 8 catchments and between mean annual temperature and both mechanical weathering and runoff in 7 of the 8 catchments. For each degree of temperature increase, the runoff, mechanical weathering flux, and chemical weathering fluxes in these catchments are found to increase from 6 to 16%, 8 to 30%, and 4 to 14% respectively, depending on the catchment. In contrast, annual precipitation is less related to the measured fluxes; statistically significant correlations between annual precipitation and runoff, mechanical weathering, and chemical weathering were found for 3 of the least glaciated catchments. Mechanical and chemical weathering increased with time in all catchments over the 44 year period. These correlations were statistically significant for only 2 of the 8 catchments due to scatter in corresponding annual runoff and average annual temperature versus time plots. Taken together, these results 1) demonstrate a significant feedback between climate and Earth surface weathering, and 2) suggest that weathering rates are currently increasing with time due to global warming. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 277, no 02-jan, 213-222 p.
Keyword [en]
climate moderation, chemical weathering, basalt, CO2 flux, global carbon cycle
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-60398DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2008.10.018ISI: 000262812100024OAI: diva2:434712
authorCount :11Available from: 2011-08-16 Created: 2011-08-16 Last updated: 2011-08-16Bibliographically approved

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Torssander, Peter
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Department of Geological Sciences
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