Effects of alkalinity and salinity at low and high light intensity on hydrogen isotope fractionation of long-chain alkenones produced by Emiliania huxleyi

Over the last decade, hydrogen isotope fractionation of long-chain alkenones have been shown to be a promising proxy for reconstructing paleo sea surface salinity due to a strong hydrogen isotope fractionation response to salinity across different environmental conditions. However, to date, the decoupling of the effects of alkalinity and salinity, parameters that co-vary in the surface ocean, on hydrogen isotope fractionation of alkenones has not been assessed. Furthermore, as the alkenone-producing haptophyte, Emiliania huxleyi, is known to grow in large blooms under high light intensities, the effect of salinity on hydrogen isotope fractionation under these high irradiances is important to constrain before using hydrogen isotope fractionation to reconstruct paleosalinity. Batch cultures of the marine haptophyte E. huxleyi strain CCMP 1516 were grown to investigate the hydrogen isotope fractionation response to salinity at high light intensity and independently assess the effects of salinity and alkalinity. Our results suggest that alkalinity does not significantly influence hydrogen isotope fractionation of alkenones, but salinity does have a strong effect. Additionally, no significant difference was observed between the fractionation responses to salinity recorded in alkenones grown under both high and low light conditions. Comparison with previous studies suggests that the fractionation response to salinity in culture is similar under different environmental conditions, strengthening the applicability of hydrogen isotope fractionation as a paleosalinity proxy.

Weiss G. M., Pfannerstill E. Y., Schouten S., Sinninghe Damsté J. S. & van der Meer M. T. J., 2017. Effects of alkalinity and salinity at low and high light intensity on hydrogen isotope fractionation of long-chain alkenones produced by Emiliania huxleyi. Biogeosciences Discussions 1-18. Article.

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