Sea-surface temperature from coral skeletal strontium/calcium ratios

J. Warren Beck, Larry Edwards, Emi Ito, Frederick W. Taylor, Jacques Recy, Francis Rougerie, Pascale Joannot, Christian Henin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

653 Scopus citations


Seasonal records of tropical sea-surface temperature (SST) over the past 105 years can be recovered from high-precision measurements of coral strontium/calcium ratios with the use of thermal ionization mass spectrometry. The temperature dependence of these ratios was calibrated with corals collected at SST recording stations and by 18O/16O thermometry. The results suggest that mean monthly SST may be determined with an apparent accuracy of better than 0.5°C. Measurements on a fossil coral indicate that 10,200 years ago mean annual SSTs near Vanuatu in the southwestern Pacific Ocean were about 5°C colder than today and that seasonal variations in SST were larger. These data suggest that tropical climate zones were compressed toward the equator during deglaciation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-647
Number of pages4
Issue number5070
StatePublished - 1992


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