Quantifying sea surface temperature ranges of the Arabian Sea for the past 20 000 years
Abstract. The oxygen isotopic composition of planktonic foraminifera tests is one of the widest used geochemical tools to reconstruct past changes of physical parameters of the upper ocean. It is common practice to analyze multiple individuals from a mono-specific population and assume that the outcome reflects a mean value of the environmental conditions during calcification of the analyzed individuals. Here we present the oxygen isotope composition of individual specimens of the surface-dwelling species Globigerinoides ruber and Globigerina bulloides from sediment cores in the Western Arabian Sea off Somalia, inferred as indicators of past seasonal ranges in temperature. Combining the δ18O measurements of individual specimens to obtain temperature ranges with Mg/Ca based mean calcification temperatures allows us to reconstruct temperature extrema. Our results indicate that over the past 20 kyr the seasonal temperature range has fluctuated from its present value of 16 °C to mean values of 13 °C and 11 °C for the Holocene and LGM, respectively. The data for the LGM suggest that the maximum temperature was lower, whilst minimum temperature remained approximately constant. The rather minor variability in lowest summer temperatures during the LGM suggests roughly constant summer monsoon intensity, while upwelling-induced productivity was lowered.