Investigating the influence of regional climate and oceanography on marine radiocarbon reservoir ages in southwest New Zealand

Hinojosa, J. L., Moy, C. M., Prior, C. A., Eglinton, T. I., Mcintyre, C. P. , Stirling, C. H. and Wilson, G. S. (2015) Investigating the influence of regional climate and oceanography on marine radiocarbon reservoir ages in southwest New Zealand. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 167, pp. 526-539. (doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2015.11.003)

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Abstract

The New Zealand fjords are located at a latitude where distinct oceanic and atmospheric fronts separate carbon reservoirs of varying residence time. The marine radiocarbon reservoir age in this region is likely to deviate from the global average reservoir age over space and time as frontal boundaries migrate north and south. Here we present new estimates of modern radiocarbon reservoir age using the radiocarbon content of bivalve shells collected live before 1950. Multiple measurements from hydrographically distinct sites support the use of a ΔR, defined as the regional offset between measured and modeled marine radiocarbon reservoir age, of 59 ± 35 years for the New Zealand fjords. We also assess the radiocarbon content of bulk surface sediments throughout the fjord region. Sediment with a higher proportion of marine organic carbon has relatively less radiocarbon than more terrestrial sediment, suggesting a short residence time of organic carbon on land before deposition in the fjords. Additionally, we constrain reservoir age variability throughout the Holocene using coeval terrestrial and marine macrofossils. Although our modern results suggest spatial consistency in ΔR throughout the fjords, large deviations from the global average marine radiocarbon reservoir age exist in the paleo record. We find four ancient ΔR values, extending back to ∼10.2 cal kyr BP, to be negative or near zero. A likely cause of younger radiocarbon reservoir ages at select intervals throughout the Holocene is the increased influence of the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds, which cause extreme precipitation in the region that delivers terrestrial carbon, enriched in radiocarbon, to fjord basins. However, bivalve depth habitat may also influence radiocarbon content due to a stratified water column containing distinct carbon pools. This work highlights the need for thorough assessment of local radiocarbon cycling in similar regions of dynamic ocean/atmosphere frontal zones, especially fjords and other semi-restricted estuaries.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mcintyre, Dr Cameron
Authors: Hinojosa, J. L., Moy, C. M., Prior, C. A., Eglinton, T. I., Mcintyre, C. P., Stirling, C. H., and Wilson, G. S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:02727714
ISSN (Online):1096-0015

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