Bivalve Shells—Unique High-Resolution Archives of the Environmental Past

  • Lars BeierleinEmail author
  • Gernot Nehrke
  • Tamara Trofimova
  • Thomas Brey
Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH)


Understanding the climate of the past is essential for anticipating future climate change. Palaeoclimatic archives are the key to the past, but few marine archives (including tropical corals) combine long recording times (decades to centuries) with high temporal resolution (decadal to intra-annual). In temperate and polar regions carbonate shells can perform the equivalent function as a proxy archive as corals do in the tropics. The bivalve Arctica islandica is a particularly unique bio-archive owing to its wide distribution throughout the North Atlantic and its extreme longevity (up to 500 years). This paper exemplifies how information at intra-annual and decadal scales is derived from A. islandica shells and combined into a detailed picture of past conditions. Oxygen isotope analysis (δ18O) provides information on the intra-annual temperature cycle while frequency analysis of shell growth records identifies decadal variability such as a distinct 5-year signal, which might be linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation.


Sclerochronology Arctica islandica Frequency analysis Raman microscopy Stable oxygen isotopes Palaeoceanography Intra-annual Decadal 



We would like to thank Salma Begum (AWI Bremerhaven), Carin Andersson Dahl (Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Uni Research), Lovísa Ásbjörnsdóttir (Icelandic Institute of Natural History) for providing the shell material. Further, Andreas Mackensen, Lisa Schönborn and Kerstin Beyer (all AWI Bremerhaven) are thanked for their help and advice with the stable oxygen isotope measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Beierlein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gernot Nehrke
    • 1
  • Tamara Trofimova
    • 2
  • Thomas Brey
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Saint Petersburg State UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia

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