Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 1859–1876, 2018
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 1859–1876, 2018

Review article 16 Oct 2018

Review article | 16 Oct 2018

A global compilation of coccolithophore calcification rates

Chris J. Daniels1, Alex J. Poulton1,2, William M. Balch3, Emilio Marañón4, Tim Adey5, Bruce C. Bowler3, Pedro Cermeño6, Anastasia Charalampopoulou5, David W. Crawford7,8, Dave Drapeau3, Yuanyuan Feng9, Ana Fernández4, Emilio Fernández4, Glaucia M. Fragoso10, Natalia González11, Lisa M. Graziano3, Rachel Heslop5, Patrick M. Holligan5, Jason Hopkins3, María Huete-Ortega12, David A. Hutchins13, Phoebe J. Lam14, Michael S. Lipsen15, Daffne C. López-Sandoval16, Socratis Loucaides1,5, Adrian Marchetti17, Kyle M. J. Mayers5, Andrew P. Rees18, Cristina Sobrino4, Eithne Tynan5, and Toby Tyrrell5 Chris J. Daniels et al.
  • 1National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 2The Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Sciences and Technology, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
  • 3Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, ME 04544, Maine, USA
  • 4Departamento de Ecología y Biología Animal, Universidad de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
  • 5Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 6Instituto de Cièncias del Mar, CSIC, E08003 Barcelona, Spain
  • 7Climate Chemistry Laboratory, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, P.O. Box 6000, Sidney, BC V8L 4B2 Canada
  • 8Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2YA, Canada
  • 9Tianjin University of Science and Technology, Tianjin Shi, 300457, China
  • 10Trondhjem Biological Station, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
  • 11Biodiversity and Conservation Area, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, 28933 Madrid, Spain
  • 12Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EA, UK
  • 13Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
  • 14Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, CA 95064, USA
  • 15Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
  • 16Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
  • 17Department of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, NC 27599, USA
  • 18Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, West Hoe, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK

Abstract. The biological production of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), a process termed calcification, is a key term in the marine carbon cycle. A major planktonic group responsible for such pelagic CaCO3 production (CP) is the coccolithophores, single-celled haptophytes that inhabit the euphotic zone of the ocean. Satellite-based estimates of areal CP are limited to surface waters and open-ocean areas, with current algorithms utilising the unique optical properties of the cosmopolitan bloom-forming species Emiliania huxleyi, whereas little understanding of deep-water ecology, optical properties or environmental responses by species other than E. huxleyi is currently available to parameterise algorithms or models. To aid future areal estimations and validate future modelling efforts we have constructed a database of 2765 CP measurements, the majority of which were measured using 12 to 24 h incorporation of radioactive carbon (14C) into acid-labile inorganic carbon (CaCO3). We present data collated from over 30 studies covering the period from 1991 to 2015, sampling the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Southern oceans. Globally, CP in surface waters ( < 20 m) ranged from 0.01 to 8398 µmol C m−3 d−1 (with a geometric mean of 16.1 µmol C m−3 d−1). An integral value for the upper euphotic zone (herein surface to the depth of 1 % surface irradiance) ranged from  < 0.1 to 6 mmol C m−2 d−1 (geometric mean 1.19 mmol C m−2 d−1). The full database is available for download from PANGAEA at

Short summary
Calcifying marine algae (coccolithophores) are key to oceanic biogeochemical processes, such as calcium carbonate production and export. We compile a global database of calcium carbonate production from field samples (n = 2756), alongside primary production rates and coccolithophore abundance. Basic statistical analysis highlights global distribution, average surface and integrated rates, patterns with depth and the importance of considering cell-normalised rates as a simple physiological index.