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Dr Maria de la Fuente

Dr Maria de la Fuente

Research Associate


Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 368342

Research Interests

The apparent concordance between changes in atmospheric CO2 and temperature variations over glacial-interglacial cycles has focused much of the past and current research on investigating the possible causes and mechanisms behind this parallelism. Air bubbles from Antarctic ice cores have revealed that atmospheric CO2 decreased when our planet was under cold conditions as compared to warmer conditions, indicating a redistribution of carbon between the various carbon reservoirs under different climatic stages. In order to understand why and how carbon moved differently between reservoirs at those periods, including the implications for climate-carbon cycle feedbacks, detailed studies of the carbon cycle evolution in the past are required.

For a long time, the marine carbon reservoir has been proposed as a one of the most plausible reservoirs to have incorporated a large part of the carbon that was missing in the atmosphere over glacial periods. Moreover, changes in the marine soft-tissue carbon pump efficiency are thought to be crucial for driving increased respired carbon accumulation in the deep ocean. However, existing data that might allow these proposals to be tested remain sparse and somewhat controversial. My research is focused on mapping the marine respired carbon content across the oceanic basins during the last glacial period as compared to the late Holocene, as well as inferring the potential mechanisms that may have driven the proposed increased marine carbon storage over the last glacial. For this purpose, I combine marine carbon related proxies analysed in foraminiferal calcite shells, such as radiocarbon, δ13C, and trace elements to infer [CO32-] and O2 content, obtained from sediment cores all around the word. By looking at the way these variables have co-evolved over time and across the ocean basins, both the amount of respired carbon that was stored in the global ocean interior in the past and the relative contributions of e.g. the marine soft-tissue carbon pump and/or the overturning circulation can be inferred.


Geochemistry ; Stable isotopes ; palaeoclimate reconstructions

Key Publications

de la Fuente, M., L. Skinner, E. Calvo, C. Pelejero, & I. Cacho, (2015). Increased reservoir ages and poorly ventilated deep waters inferred in the glacial Eastern Equatorial Pacific. Nature communications6.

Skinner, L., F. Primeau, E. Freeman, M. de la Fuente, P.A. Goodwin, J. Gottschalk, E. Huang, I.N. McCave, T.L. Noble & A.E. Scrivner, (2017). The ‘glacial’ ocean circulation and its impact on atmospheric CO2. Nature communications, (in press).

de la Fuente, M., E. Calvo, L. Skinner, C. Pelejero, D. Evans, W. Müller, P. Povea & I. Cacho, (under review). The evolution of deep ocean chemistry and respired carbon in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific over the last deglaciation. (under review in Paleoceanography)

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