Alkenones as paleoceanographic proxies Academic Article uri icon


  • Alkenone-derived estimates of temperature and CO2 are contributing to our understanding of Earth’s climate history. In order to increase confidence in alkenone-based climate proxies we recommend the following actions. First, the sedimentary component or fraction containing alkenones should be identified in order to assess the impact of horizontal advection and vertical mixing on alkenone-derived temperature and CO2 estimates. Second, differential by indendent dating of the two phases. Until that is accomplished, apparent temporal offsets of climate proxies in the two phases should be interpreted cautiously. Third, the stability of the unsaturation ratio and carbon isotopic compositions of alkenones during all phases of diagenesis should be confirmed. Both field and laboratory observations are required. Fourth, future alkenone investigations should be coupled with other paleoclimate proxy measurements at high-deposition-rate-sites in a variety of oceanographic settings. In upwelling regions and in the vicinity of river plumes, salinity and nutrient proxies should be measured since changes in these parameters may affect alkenone biosynthesis.

publication date

  • November 21, 2000