Bernstein Whitney N.

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Whitney N.

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  • Article
    Spatial and temporal robustness of Sr/Ca‐SST calibrations in Red Sea corals : evidence for influence of mean annual temperature on calibration slopes
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-05-09) Murty, Sujata A. ; Bernstein, Whitney N. ; Ossolinski, Justin E. ; Davis, R. S. ; Goodkin, Nathalie F. ; Hughen, Konrad A.
    Sr/Ca ratios recorded in the aragonite skeleton of massive coral colonies are commonly used to reconstruct seasonal‐ to centennial‐scale variability in sea surface temperature (SST). While the Sr/Ca paleothermometer is robust in individual colonies, Sr/Ca‐SST relationships between colonies vary, leading to questions regarding the utility of the proxy. We present biweekly‐resolution calibrations of Sr/Ca from five Porites spp. corals to satellite SST across 10° of latitude in the Red Sea to evaluate the Sr/Ca proxy across both spatial and temporal scales. SST is significantly correlated with coral Sr/Ca at each site, accounting for 69–84% of Sr/Ca variability (P ≪ 0.01). Intercolony variability in Sr/Ca‐SST sensitivities reveals a latitudinal trend, where calibration slopes become shallower with increasing mean annual temperature. Mean annual temperature is strongly correlated with the biweekly‐resolution calibration slopes across five Red Sea sites (r2 = 0.88, P = 0.05), while also correlating significantly to Sr/Ca‐SST slopes for 33 Porites corals from across the entire Indo‐Pacific region (r2 = 0.26, P < 0.01). Although interannual summer, winter, and mean annual calibrations for individual Red Sea colonies are inconsistently robust, combined multicoral calibrations are significant at summer (r2 = 0.53, P ≪ 0.01), winter (r2 = 0.62, P ≪ 0.01), and mean annual time scales (r2 = 0.79, P ≪ 0.01). Our multicoral, multisite study indicates that the Sr/Ca paleothermometer is accurate across both temporal and spatial scales in the Red Sea and also potentially explains for the first time variability in Sr/Ca‐SST calibration slopes across the Indo‐Pacific region. Our study provides strong evidence supporting the robustness of the coral Sr/Ca proxy for examining seasonal to multicentury variability in global climate phenomena.
  • Thesis
    Variations in coral reef net community calcification and aragonite saturation state on local and global scales
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2013-09) Bernstein, Whitney N.
    Predicting the response of net community calcification (NCC) to ocean acidification (OA) and declining aragonite saturation state (Ωa) requires a thorough understanding of controls on NCC. The diurnal control of light and net community production (NCP) on NCC confounds the underlying control of Ωa on NCC and must be averaged out in order to predict the general response of NCC to OA. I did this by generating a general NCC-Ωa correlation based on data from 15 field and mesocosm studies around the globe. The general relationship agrees well with results from mesocosm experiments. This general relationship implies that NCC will transition from net calcification to net dissolution at a Ωa of 1.0 ± 0.6 and predicts that NCC will decline by 50% from 1880 to 2100, for a reef of any percent calcifier cover and short reef water residence time. NCC will also decline if percent calcifier cover declines, as evidenced by estimates of NCC in two Caribbean reefs having declined by an estimated 50-90% since 1880. The general NCC-Ωa relationship determined here, along with changes in percent calcifier cover, will be useful in predicting changes in NCC in response to OA and for refining models of reef water Ωa.