Source-specific biomarkers as proxies for Arctic and Antarctic sea ice

Over the last decade or so, certain source-specific C-25 highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) lipid biomarkers have emerged as useful proxies for Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. Thus, IP25 (Ice proxy with 25 carbon atoms) and IPSO25 (Ice proxy for the Southern Ocean with 25 carbon atoms) represent binary measures of past seasonal sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, respectively. A further tri-unsaturated HBI (generally referred to as HBI III) appears to provide proxy evidence for the region of open water found adjacent to sea ice (i.e. the marginal ice zone (MIZ)) in both polar regions. This review provides an update on current knowledge pertaining to each proxy. The first section focuses on describing those studies that have aimed to establish the underlying features of each proxy, including source identification and spatial distribution characteristics. The second section presents some important analytical considerations pertinent to the accurate identification and quantification of HBI biomarkers. The third section describes how each HBI proxy is normally interpreted within the sedimentary record for palaeo sea ice reconstruction purposes. This includes the interpretation of individual and combined biomarker profiles such as the PIP25 index and multivariate decision tree models. A summary of all previous palaeo sea ice reconstructions based on HBIs is also given, which includes examples that clarify or reinforce our understanding of the individual or combined biomarker signatures. Some knowledge gaps and areas for future research are also briefly described.


Biomarkers, HBIs, IP25, IPSO25, Sea ice, Proxies

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Belt Simon T. (2018). Source-specific biomarkers as proxies for Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. Organic Geochemistry. 125. 277-298.,

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