B/Ca in planktonic foraminifera as a proxy for surface seawater pH

Boron isotope systematics indicate that boron incorporation into foraminiferal CaCO3 is determined by the partition coefficient, KD (= inline equation), and [B(OH)4 −/HCO3 −]seawater, providing, in principle, a method to estimate seawater pH and PCO2. We have measured B/Ca ratios in Globigerina bulloides and Globorotalia inflata for a series of core tops from the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean and in Globigerinoides ruber (white) from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) site 668B on the Sierra Leone Rise in the eastern equatorial Atlantic. B/Ca ratios in these species of planktonic foraminifera seem unaffected by dissolution on the seafloor. KD shows a strong species-specific dependence on calcification temperature, which can be corrected for using the Mg/Ca temperature proxy. A preliminary study of G. inflata from Southern Ocean sediment core CHAT 16K suggests that temperature-corrected B/Ca was 30% higher during the last glacial. Correspondingly, pH was 0.15 units higher and aqueous PCO2 was 95 μatm lower at this site at the Last Glacial Maximum. The covariation between reconstructed PCO2 and the atmospheric pCO2 from the Vostok ice core demonstrates the feasibility of using B/Ca in planktonic foraminifera for reconstructing past variations in pH and PCO2.

Yu, J., H. Elderfield, and B. Hönisch (2007), B/Ca in planktonic foraminifera as a proxy for surface seawater pH. Paleoceanography 22, PA2202, doi:10.1029/2006PA001347. Abstract.

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