The universal ratio of boron to chlorinity for the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans

Kitack Lee, Tae Wook Kim, Robert H. Byrne, Frank J. Millero, Richard A. Feely, Yong Ming Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Citations (Scopus)


We report seawater boron concentration (mg kg-1) and chlorinity (‰) values measured in seawater samples (n = 139) collected at various depths in the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans and the East/Japan Sea (located in the western temperate North Pacific). Our results indicate that variations in seawater boron concentration are strongly coupled to variations in chlorinity (and salinity), yielding a mean boron to chlorinity ratio of 0.2414 ± 0.0009 mg kg-1-1 (boron to salinity ratio = 0.1336 ± 0.0005 mg kg-1-1). This ratio was surprisingly universal throughout the water column in the three marine basins and across widely different ocean surface regimes, but differs from the generally accepted ratio of 0.232 ± 0.005 mg kg-1-1 determined by Uppström (1974), which was based on only 20 measurements at four sites in the tropical Pacific Ocean. In converting total alkalinity to carbonate alkalinity (and vice versa) for thermodynamic calculations, the difference between these two ratios leads to a difference of 5 μmol kg-1 in estimates for ocean surface waters, where the contribution of borate to total alkalinity is typically greatest. We suggest the use of the new boron to chlorinity ratio for predicting seawater boron concentrations using chlorinity (or salinity) data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1801-1811
Number of pages11
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar 15
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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