Abstract

AbstractAlkenones are biomarkers produced solely by algae in the order Isochrysidales that have been used to reconstruct sea surface temperature (SST) since the 1980s. However, alkenone-based SST reconstructions in the northern high latitude oceans show significant bias towards warmer temperatures in core-tops, diverge from other SST proxies in down core records, and are often accompanied by anomalously high relative abundance of the C37 tetra-unsaturated methyl alkenone (%C37:4). Elevated %C37:4 is widely interpreted as an indicator of low sea surface salinity from polar water masses, but its biological source has thus far remained elusive. Here we identify a lineage of Isochrysidales that is responsible for elevated C37:4 methyl alkenone in the northern high latitude oceans through next-generation sequencing and lab-culture experiments. This Isochrysidales lineage co-occurs widely with sea ice in marine environments and is distinct from other known marine alkenone-producers, namely Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica. More importantly, the %C37:4 in seawater filtered particulate organic matter and surface sediments is significantly correlated with annual mean sea ice concentrations. In sediment cores from the Svalbard region, the %C37:4 concentration aligns with the Greenland temperature record and other qualitative regional sea ice records spanning the past 14 kyrs, reflecting sea ice concentrations quantitatively. Our findings imply that %C37:4 is a powerful proxy for reconstructing sea ice conditions in the high latitude oceans on thousand- and, potentially, on million-year timescales.

DOI

10.1038/s41467-020-20187-z

Publication Date

2020-11-12

Publication Title

Nature Communications

Volume

12

Issue

1

ISSN

2041-1723

Embargo Period

2021-01-07

Organisational Unit

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

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