Quantitative reconstruction of primary productivity in low latitudes during the last glacial maximum and the mid-to-late Holocene from a global Florisphaera profunda calibration dataset

I. Hernández-Almeida*, B. Ausín, M. Saavedra-Pellitero, K. H. Baumann, H. M. Stoll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ocean net primary productivity (Npp) is a key component of the marine carbon cycle. Multi-model Npp projections based on a few decades of satellite data show large uncertainties, in particular at low latitudes (30°N−30°S). Calibration of sedimentary proxies with satellite-based Npp estimates allows for the quantitative reconstruction of this variable at longer time-scales. Relative abundance of deep-photic zone coccolithophore species Florisphaera profunda in the fossil record can potentially be used as a quantitative proxy for Npp. However, the robustness of this proxy calibration has been tested in very specific oceanographic settings using surface sediment samples. Here, we use a global dataset of surface sediment (n = 1258) and sediment trap (n = 26) samples with relative abundance data of F. profunda (%) to test the robustness of this proxy as a quantitative indicator of Npp. We study the modern and paleo-ecology of this species and the main factors affecting its latitudinal distribution. Results show that F. profunda % is a strong indicator of Npp at latitudes between 30°N and 30°S, while at higher latitudes temperature-related variables are more important. We develop a global calibration model between satellite Npp estimates and F. profunda for the latitudinal range between 30°N and 30°S, and we apply it to several low-latitude sediment cores with available F. profunda counts covering the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM; 24–19 ka) and the Mid-to-Late Holocene period (MLH; <6 ka). Reconstructed Npp during the LGM is 15% higher than during the MLHdue to the intensification of trade winds that enhanced oceanic upwelling at low latitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-181
Number of pages16
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date24 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeography
  • Carbon cycle
  • Coccolithophores
  • Global calibration
  • Holocene
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • Ocean net primary productivity
  • Paleoceanography
  • Paleoecology
  • Quantitative reconstruction

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