THE PEATLAND/ICE AGE HYPOTHESIS REVISED, ADDING A POSSIBLE GLACIAL PULSE TRIGGER
© The authors 2007Journal compilation © 2007 Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
THE PEATLAND/ICE AGE HYPOTHESIS REVISED,ADDING A POSSIBLE GLACIAL PULSE TRIGGER
BYLARS G. FRANZÉN
AND ROGER A. CROPP
Department of Earth Sciences, Göteborg University, Sweden
Centre for Environmental Systems Research, Griffith University, Australia
Franzén, L.G. and Cropp, R.A.
, 2007: The Peatland/ice age Hy-pothesis revised, adding a possible glacial pulse trigger.
89 A (4): 301–330.
ABSTRACT. Carbon sequestering in peatlands isbelieved to be a major climate-regulating mecha-nism throughout the late Phanerozoic. Since plantlife ﬁrst evolved on land, peatlands have been sig-niﬁcant carbon sinks, which could explain signiﬁ-cant parts of the large variations in atmosphericcarbon dioxide observed in various records. Theresult is peat in different degrees of metamorpho-sis, i.e. lignite, hard coal and graphite. Duringphases of extensive glaciations such as the 330–240 Ma Pangea Ice Age, atmospheric carbon diox-ide was critically low. This pattern repeats itselfduring the Pleistocene when carbon dioxide oscil-lates with an amplitude of
. 200–300 ppmv. Thispaper suggests that the ice age cycles during thePleistocene are generated by the interglacialgrowth of peatlands and the subsequent seques-tering of carbon into this terrestrial pool. The ﬁnalinitiation of ice age pulses towards the end of inter-glacials, on the other hand, is attributed to the cy-clic inﬂux of cosmic dust to the Earth surface,which in turn regulates cloud formation and the in-coming shortwave radiation. These shorter cycleshave a frequency of
. 1000–1250 years and mightbe connected to sunspot or other low frequencysolar variations. In a wider context the ice age cy-cling could be regarded as an interplay betweenterrestrial life on the high latitudes of the northernhemisphere and the marine subsurface life in thesoutheast.If the results presented here are correct, thepresent global warming might just be the earlypart of a new warm period such as the Bronze Ageand the Roman and Medieval Warm periods. Thiscould be caused by entry into another phase of de-creasing inﬂux rates of cosmic dust. The increas-ing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxidemight have contributed to this warming but, mostimportant of all, it might temporarily have savedus from a new ice age pulse.
ice age cycling, peatland lateral growth, carbon sink,cosmic dust, DMS, ice age initiation, 1000 year cycle
Even if the bog Komosse is not of the same size asthe bog Storemosse in Käfsjö and Åker parishes,it still was a more than usually dreary sight, that appeared to my eyes when I, on a dark and rainyday stood at the north-eastern edge of this waste-land, prepared to take a walk across it. I have had the opportunity to see many raised bogs, equal insize to Komosse, and I have often been attracted by their waste and wild beauty. I have admired thewonderful display of colours of the mires of northern Sweden on a bright summer day, whichis beyond all description; I have actually beenstunned at the sight of a heather bog, glowing likea sea of purple at sunset – but I have never seena mire having a, so to speak, scoundrelly appear-ance as this one. Lacking all trees worth speakingof, with the vast grey-brown surface frequentlybroken by holes and grooves ﬁlled with black mud and numerous ponds in which water a lead greysky was reﬂected, without sign of advanced ani-mal life, it just lay there like an enormous, repul-sive polyp, stretching out its dreadful arms and intruding in all directions. It is an open, constant-ly fretting cancer wound to its district and the pri-vate enterprise stands perplexed and vain against this evil spreading over its surroundings. Thewarm-hearted person, now deceased, that once proposed that the government should take imme-diate steps to drain all larger bogs, had he needed new impulses to raise this question again – in-deed he couldn’t have got them better than at theedge of Komosse
(Robert Tolf 1893)Komosse is one of the largest remaining virgin bogcomplexes in Europe and is also one of the moststudied, from different points of views includingvegetation (e.g. Osvald 1923) and hydrology (e.g.Johansson 1976).