Latitudinal Variation of Planktonic Foraminifera Shell Masses During Termination I
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environment
The oceans' surface layer holds large amounts of dissolved inorganic carbon that is exchanged rapidly with the atmosphere. Carbon enters the ocean mainly through the dissolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), and a part of it is converted into carbonate by marine organisms. Calcifying marine organisms include planktonic foraminifers that contribute to the marine carbon turnover by generating inorganic carbon production (CaCO 3 shells). Anthropogenic CO 2 acidifies the surface ocean,
... surface ocean, changes the carbonate chemistry and decreases the saturation state of carbonate minerals in sea water, thus affecting the biological precipitation of carbonate shells. Relative changes in average foraminiferal shell mass can be interpreted as variations in test thickness and the extent of calcification that subsequently impacts the global carbonate budgets. The response of calcifying marine organisms to elevated atmospheric pCO 2 is diverse and complex with studies reporting from reduced rates of net calcification to neutral receptivity or even increased calcification intensities. This diverse behavior implies that the concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon may not be the dominant factor controlling the amount of carbonate shell masses. Here we provide further evidence that glacial/interglacial variations of planktonic foraminifera shell masses are invariant to atmospheric pCO 2 . We identify that differences in shell weights of several planktonic foraminiferal species from narrow size intervals, over the most recent deglaciation (Termination I) vary systematically as a function of latitude. Past intervals of abruptly changing pCO 2 and temperatures, such as the terminations, can offer a glimpse into the response of marine calcifying plankton to changes in surface oceans. We have compiled all the available bibliographic data of planktonic foraminifera shell weights from restricted sieve fractions of different species from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and we find that for the same pCO 2 conditions planktonic foraminifera from equatorial regions may alter their shell mass only as little as 8.2%, while towards higher latitudes changes in shell mass reach up to 54% during the transition from the last glacial to interglacial conditions. We attribute this low variability in the shell mass of planktonic foraminifera from the equator to the stability of the physical oceanographic conditions that characterize the equatorial zone.