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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Radiocarbon in annual coral rings of Florida


Radiocarbon measurements on a 175-year (A.D. 1800 to 1974) growth of the coral Montastrea annularis from The Rocks reef off the Florida Keys reveal the rate of local uptake of fossil fuel CO2 and bomb 14C by surface ocean waters of the Gulf Stream. In the nineteenth century, the pre-bomb, pre-industrial Δ14C value of surface ocean waters as seen in these corals of the Gulf Stream in the Florida Straits was −51 ± 2‰. By 1955, uptake of industrial CO2 by these waters had lowered the Δ14C values to about −61‰. The results can be used to make predictions regarding anthropogenic CO2 that can be expected to enter the oceans in future decades. Bomb-produced 14C is found to be present in the corals in comparable concentrations to that found in the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIOC) of the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans.

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