We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Introducing global peat-specific temperature and pH calibrations based on brGDGT bacterial lipids.

Naafs, B.D.A. and Inglis, G.N. and Zheng, Y. and Amesbury, M.J. and Biester, H. and Bindler, R. and Blewett, J. and Burrows, M.A. and del Castillo Torres, D. and Chambers, F.M. and Cohen, A.D. and Evershed, R.P. and Feakins, S.J. and Gallego-Sala, A. and Gandois, L. and Gray, D.M. and Hatcher, P.G. and Honorio Coronado, E.N. and Hughes, P.D.M. and Huguet, A. and Kononen, M. and Laggoun-Defarge, F. and Lahteenoja, O. and Marchant, R. and McClymont, E. and Pontevedra-Pombal, X. and Ponton, C. and Pourmand, A. and Rizzuti, A.M. and Rochefort, L. and Schellekens, J. and De Vleeschouwer, F. and Pancost, R.D. (2017) 'Introducing global peat-specific temperature and pH calibrations based on brGDGT bacterial lipids.', Geochimica et cosmochimica acta., 208 . pp. 285-301.


Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) are membrane-spanning lipids from Bacteria and Archaea that are ubiquitous in a range of natural archives and especially abundant in peat. Previous work demonstrated that the distribution of bacterial branched GDGTs (brGDGTs) in mineral soils is correlated to environmental factors such as mean annual air temperature (MAAT) and soil pH. However, the influence of these parameters on brGDGT distributions in peat is largely unknown. Here we investigate the distribution of brGDGTs in 470 samples from 96 peatlands around the world with a broad mean annual air temperature (−8 to 27 °C) and pH (3–8) range and present the first peat-specific brGDGT-based temperature and pH calibrations. Our results demonstrate that the degree of cyclisation of brGDGTs in peat is positively correlated with pH, pH = 2.49 x CBTpeat + 8.07 (n = 51, R2 = 0.58, RMSE = 0.8) and the degree of methylation of brGDGTs is positively correlated with MAAT, MAATpeat (°C) = 52.18 x MBT5me’ – 23.05 (n = 96, R2 = 0.76, RMSE = 4.7 °C). These peat-specific calibrations are distinct from the available mineral soil calibrations. In light of the error in the temperature calibration (∼ 4.7 °C), we urge caution in any application to reconstruct late Holocene climate variability, where the climatic signals are relatively small, and the duration of excursions could be brief. Instead, these proxies are well-suited to reconstruct large amplitude, longer-term shifts in climate such as deglacial transitions. Indeed, when applied to a peat deposit spanning the late glacial period (∼15.2 kyr), we demonstrate that MAATpeat yields absolute temperatures and relative temperature changes that are consistent with those from other proxies. In addition, the application of MAATpeat to fossil peat (i.e. lignites) has the potential to reconstruct terrestrial climate during the Cenozoic. We conclude that there is clear potential to use brGDGTs in peats and lignites to reconstruct past terrestrial climate.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This article is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). You may copy and distribute the article, create extracts, abstracts and new works from the article, alter and revise the article, text or data mine the article and otherwise reuse the article commercially (including reuse and/or resale of the article) without permission from Elsevier. You must give appropriate credit to the original work, together with a link to the formal publication through the relevant DOI and a link to the Creative Commons user license above. You must indicate if any changes are made but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use of the work.
Date accepted:21 December 2016
Date deposited:17 February 2017
Date of first online publication:31 January 2017
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar