Record of Little Ice Age sea surface temperatures at Bermuda using a growth-dependent calibration of coral Sr/Ca Academic Article uri icon


  • [1] Strontium to calcium ratios (Sr/Ca) are reported for a massive brain coral Diploria labyrinthiformis collected from the south shore of Bermuda and are strongly correlated with both sea surface temperature (SST) and mean annual skeletal growth rate. High Sr/Ca ratios correspond with cold SSTs and slow skeletal growth rate and vice versa. We provide a quantitative calibration of Sr/Ca to extension rate and SST along the axis of maximum growth and derive a growth-dependent Sr/Ca-SST calibration equation to reconstruct western subtropical North Atlantic SSTs for the past 223 years. When the influence of growth rate is excluded from the calibration, Sr/Ca ratios yield SSTs that are too cold during cool anomalies and too warm during warm anomalies. Toward the end of the Little Ice Age (similar to 1850), SST changes derived using a calibration that is not growth-dependent are exaggerated by a factor of 2 relative to those from the growth-corrected model that yields SSTs similar to 1.5 degrees C cooler than today. Our results indicate that incorporation of growth rate effects into coral Sr/Ca calibrations may improve the accuracy of SSTs derived from living and fossil corals.

publication date

  • December 2005