Exploring the use of compound-specific carbon isotopes as a palaeoproductivity proxy off the coast of Adélie Land, East Antarctica

Kate E. Ashley, Xavier Crosta, Johan Etourneau, Philippine Campagne, Harry Gilchrist, Uthmaan Ibraheem, Sarah E. Greene, Sabine Schmidt, Yvette Eley, Guillaume Massé, James Bendle

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Abstract

The Antarctic coastal zone is an area of high primary productivity, particularly within coastal polynyas, where large phytoplankton blooms and drawdown of CO2 occur. Reconstruction of historical primary productivity changes and the associated driving factors could provide baseline insights on the role of these areas as sinks for atmospheric CO2, especially in the context of projected changes in coastal Antarctic sea ice. Here we investigate the potential for using carbon isotopes (δ13C) of fatty acids in marine sediments as a proxy for primary productivity. We use a highly resolved sediment core from off the coast of Adélie Land spanning the last ∼ 400 years and monitor changes in the concentrations and δ13C of fatty acids along with other proxy data from the same core. We discuss the different possible drivers of their variability and argue that C24 fatty acid δ13C predominantly reflects phytoplankton productivity in open-water environments, while C18 fatty acid δ13C reflects productivity in the marginal ice zone. These new proxies have implications for better understanding carbon cycle dynamics in the Antarctica coastal zone in future palaeoclimate studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5555-5571
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume18
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2021

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