Nutrient utilization and diatom productivity changes in the low-latitude south-eastern Atlantic over the past 70 ka: response to Southern Ocean leakage

Hendry, Katharine; Romero, Oscar; Pashley, Vanessa

Eastern boundary upwellings (EBUs) are some of the key loci of biogenic silica (opal) burial in the modern ocean, representing important productive coastal systems that extraordinarily contribute to marine organic carbon fixation. The Benguela upwelling system (BUS), in the low-latitude south-eastern Atlantic, is one of the major EBUs and is under the direct influence of nutrient-rich Southern Ocean waters. Quantification of past changes in diatom productivity through time, in response to late Quaternary climatic change, feeds into our understanding of the sensitivity of EBUs to future climatic perturbations. Existing sediment archives of silica cycling include opal burial fluxes, diatom assemblages, and opaline silicon isotopic variations (denoted by inline-formulaδ30Si). Burial fluxes and siliceous assemblages are limited to recording the remains reaching the sediment (i.e. export), and inline-formulaδ30Si variations are complicated by species-specific influences and seasonality. Here, we present the first combined inline-formulaδ30Si record of two large centric diatoms from the BUS, encompassing full glacial conditions to the Holocene. In addition to export, our new data allow us to reconstruct the utilization of dissolved Si in surface waters in an area with strong input from Southern Ocean waters. Our new archives show that there was enhanced upwelling of Southern Ocean Si-rich water accompanied by strong silicic acid utilization by coastal dwelling diatoms during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS3; 60–40 ka). This pulse of strong silicic acid utilization was followed by a weakening of upwelling and coastal diatom Si utilization into MIS2, before an increase in pelagic diatom Si utilization across the deglaciation. We combine our findings with mass balance model experiments to show that changes in surface water silica cycling through time are a function of both upwelling intensity and utilization changes, illustrating the sensitivity of EBUs to climatic change on glacial–interglacial scales.

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Hendry, Katharine / Romero, Oscar / Pashley, Vanessa: Nutrient utilization and diatom productivity changes in the low-latitude south-eastern Atlantic over the past 70 ka: response to Southern Ocean leakage. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Katharine Hendry et al.

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