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