Articles | Volume 8, issue 11
Research article
29 Nov 2011
Research article |  | 29 Nov 2011

Climate dependent diatom production is preserved in biogenic Si isotope signatures

X. Sun, P. Andersson, C. Humborg, B. Gustafsson, D. J. Conley, P. Crill, and C.-M. Mörth

Abstract. The aim of this study was to reconstruct diatom production in the subarctic northern tip of the Baltic Sea, Bothnian Bay, based on down-core analysis of Si isotopes in biogenic silica (BSi). Dating of the sediment showed that the samples covered the period 1820 to 2000. The sediment core record can be divided into two periods, an unperturbed period from 1820 to 1950 and a second period affected by human activities (from 1950 to 2000). This has been observed elsewhere in the Baltic Sea. The shift in the sediment core record after 1950 is likely caused by large scale damming of rivers. Diatom production was inferred from the Si isotope composition which ranged between δ30Si −0.18‰ and +0.58‰ in BSi, and assuming fractionation patterns due to the Raleigh distillation, the production was shown to be correlated with air and water temperature, which in turn were correlated with the mixed layer (ML) depth. The sedimentary record showed that the deeper ML depth observed in colder years resulted in less production of diatoms. Pelagic investigations in the 1990's have clearly shown that diatom production in the Baltic Sea is controlled by the ML depth. Especially after cold winters and deep water mixing, diatom production was limited and dissolved silicate (DSi) concentrations were not depleted in the water column after the spring bloom. Our method corroborates these findings and offers a new method to estimate diatom production over much longer periods of time in diatom dominated aquatic systems, i.e. a large part of the world's ocean and coastal seas.

Final-revised paper