Alkenone unsaturation indices (UK37 and U K???37) have long been used as proxies for surface water temperature in the open ocean. Recent studies have suggested that in other marine environments, variables other than temperature may affect both the production of alkenones and the values of the indices. Here, we present the results of a reconnaissance field study in which alkenones were extracted from particulate matter filtered from the water column in Chesapeake Bay during 2000 and 2001. A multivariate analysis shows a strong positive correlation between UK37 (and UK???37) values and temperature, and a significant negative correlation between UK37 (and UK???37) values and nitrate concentrations. However, temperature and nitrate concentrations also co-vary significantly. The temperature vs. UK37 relationships (UK37=0.018 (T)-0.162, R2=0.84, UK???37=0.013 (T)-0.04, R2=0.80) have lower slopes than the open-ocean equations of Prahl et al. [1988. Further evaluation of long-chain alkenones as indicators of paleoceanographic conditions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 52, 2303-2310] and Mu??ller et al. [1998. Calibration of the alkenone paleotemperature index UK???37 based on core-tops from the eastern South Atlantic and the global ocean (60??N-60??S). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 62, 1757-1772], but are similar to the relationships found in controlled studies with elevated nutrient levels and higher nitrate:phosphate (N:P) ratios. This implies that high nutrient levels in Chesapeake Bay have either lowered the UK37 vs. temperature slope, or nutrient levels are the main controller of the U K37 index. In addition, particularly high abundances (>5% of total C37 alkenones) of the tetra-unsaturated ketone, C37:4, were found when water temperatures reached 25??C or higher, thus posing further questions about the controls on alkenone production as well as the biochemical roles of alkenones. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Seasonal variations of alkenones and UK37 in the Chesapeake Bay water column