Estimating Piacenzian Sea Surface Temperature Using an Alkenone-Calibrated Transfer Function

Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5051
By: , and 



Stationarity of environmental preferences is a primary assumption required for any paleoenvironmental reconstruction using fossil materials based upon calibration to modern organisms. Confidence in this assumption decreases the further back in time one goes, and the validity of the assumption that species temperature tolerances have not changed over time has been challenged in Pliocene studies. We use paired UK′37  (unsaturated ketones with 37 carbon atoms) sea surface temperature (SST) and faunal assemblage data to directly calibrate North Atlantic Piacenzian planktonic foraminifer assemblages to Piacenzian alkenone paleotemperature estimates to provide an alternative paleoceanographic reconstruction approach that does not rely on stationarity. In doing so, we extend Pliocene SST estimates to sites where only quantitative faunal assemblage data were previously available and improve the spatial resolution of the North Atlantic SST reconstruction.

Suggested Citation

Dowsett, H.J., Robinson, M.M., and Foley, K.M., 2021, Estimating Piacenzian sea surface temperature using an alkenone-calibrated transfer function: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2021–5051, 17 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Background and Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Species List
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Estimating Piacenzian sea surface temperature using an alkenone-calibrated transfer function
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2021-5051
DOI 10.3133/sir20215051
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center, Florence Bascom Geoscience Center
Description Report: vi, 17 p.; Data Release
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details