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Keywords:

  • atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration;
  • stomatal density;
  • Younger Dryas;
  • Atlantic Canada.

Abstract

A recent high-resolution record of Late-glacial CO2 change from Dome Concordia in Antarctica reveals a trend of increasing CO2 across the Younger Dryas stadial (GS-1). These results are in good agreement with previous Antarctic ice-core records. However, they contrast markedly with a proxy CO2 record based on the stomatal approach to CO2 reconstruction, which records a ca. 70 ppm mean CO2 decline at the onset of GS-1. To address these apparent discrepancies we tested the validity of the stomatal-based CO2 reconstructions from Kråkenes by obtaining further proxy CO2 records based on a similar approach using fossil leaves from two independent lakes in Atlantic Canada. Our Late-glacial CO2 reconstructions reveal an abrupt ca. 77 ppm decrease in atmospheric CO2 at the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial, which lagged climatic cooling by ca. 130 yr. Furthermore, the trends recorded in the most accurate high-resolution ice-core record of CO2, from Dome Concordia, can be reproduced from our stomatal-based CO2 records, when time-averaged by the mean age distribution of air contained within Dome Concordia ice (200 to 550 yr). If correct, our results indicate an abrupt drawdown of atmospheric CO2 within two centuries at the onset of GS-1, suggesting that some re-evaluation of the behaviour of atmospheric CO2 sinks and sources during times of rapid climatic change, such as the Late-glacial, may be required. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.