Vertically-Resolved Seawater Salinity in the Caribbean Sea mixed layer since 1700 AD from sclerosponges
Prof. Dr. Amos Winter
INF 229, SR 108/110

The Caribbean Sea in the tropical Atlantic is one of the major heat engines of the Earth and a sensitive area for monitoring climate variability.  Salinity changes in the Caribbean Sea record changes in ocean currents and ocean heat transport.  Seawater salinity in the Caribbean Sea has been monitored in recent decades, Nevertheless, of all the basic oceanographic parameters information before the instrumental period remains limited, due to the difficulty of reconstructing salinity, arguably the most difficult natural archives to recreate.  We have been able to reconstruct salinity changes in the Caribbean Sea from 1700 to the present from southwest Puerto Rico using slow growing and long-lived scelerosponges from southwest Puerto Rico.  These well-dated sponges are known to precipitate their skeletons in isotopic equilibrium (i.e., their record is not affected much by vital effects) and were retrieved from various depths in the mixed layer, from the surface to 90 m depth.  We were able to establish salinity changes by deconvoluting stable isotopes (d18O) and trace element (Sr/Ca) proxies taken from the sponges at regular intervals. In this contribution, we will present the salinity record and illustrate the process for salinity reconstruction. We will also discuss how we determine how salinity changes in our record relate to radiative forcings as well as connect them with dominant mechanisms operating in the region, including changes in the position of the ITCZ and AMOC intensity over time.