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Progressive Cenozoic cooling and the demise of Antarctica's last refugium

Progressive Cenozoic cooling and the demise of Antarctica's last refugium
Progressive Cenozoic cooling and the demise of Antarctica's last refugium
The Antarctic Peninsula is considered to be the last region of Antarctica to have been fully glaciated as a result of Cenozoic climatic cooling. As such, it was likely the last refugium for plants and animals that had inhabited the continent since it separated from the Gondwana supercontinent. Drill cores and seismic data acquired during two cruises (SHALDRIL I and II) in the northernmost Peninsula region yield a record that, when combined with existing data, indicates progressive cooling and associated changes in terrestrial vegetation over the course of the past 37 million years. Mountain glaciation began in the latest Eocene (approximately 37–34 Ma), contemporaneous with glaciation elsewhere on the continent and a reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. This climate cooling was accompanied by a decrease in diversity of the angiosperm-dominated vegetation that inhabited the northern peninsula during the Eocene. A mosaic of southern beech and conifer-dominated woodlands and tundra continued to occupy the region during the Oligocene (approximately 34–23 Ma). By the middle Miocene (approximately 16–11.6 Ma), localized pockets of limited tundra still existed at least until 12.8 Ma. The transition from temperate, alpine glaciation to a dynamic, polythermal ice sheet took place during the middle Miocene. The northernmost Peninsula was overridden by an ice sheet in the early Pliocene (approximately 5.3–3.6 Ma). The long cooling history of the peninsula is consistent with the extended timescales of tectonic evolution of the Antarctic margin, involving the opening of ocean passageways and associated establishment of circumpolar circulation.
cryosphere, paleoclimate, plant evolution, polar biota, climate change
0027-8424
11356-11360
Anderson, J.B.
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Warny, S.
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Askin, R.A.
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Wellner, J.S.
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Bohaty, S.M.
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Kirshner, A.E.
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Livsey, D.N.
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Simms, A.R.
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Smith, T.R.
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Ehrmann, W.
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Lawver, L.A.
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Barbeau, D.
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Wise, S.W.
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Kulhenek, D.K.
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Weaver, F.M.
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Majewski, W.
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Anderson, J.B.
513ce35d-8537-4065-95a6-0b3a43781078
Warny, S.
1890abac-92ef-4b42-a2c7-4be3ae3ab893
Askin, R.A.
552d2ba4-8951-4081-a883-25023f8238e5
Wellner, J.S.
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Bohaty, S.M.
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Kirshner, A.E.
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Livsey, D.N.
c8a8229b-2b5d-466a-b5e0-a1397e04b5b3
Simms, A.R.
925e2a3f-7a0a-4bdd-be53-57b8cb51efb7
Smith, T.R.
cd27cb7a-1b42-468e-a11e-c7e813ff1fbe
Ehrmann, W.
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Lawver, L.A.
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Barbeau, D.
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Wise, S.W.
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Kulhenek, D.K.
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Weaver, F.M.
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Majewski, W.
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Anderson, J.B., Warny, S., Askin, R.A., Wellner, J.S., Bohaty, S.M., Kirshner, A.E., Livsey, D.N., Simms, A.R., Smith, T.R., Ehrmann, W., Lawver, L.A., Barbeau, D., Wise, S.W., Kulhenek, D.K., Weaver, F.M. and Majewski, W. (2011) Progressive Cenozoic cooling and the demise of Antarctica's last refugium. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108 (28), 11356-11360. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1014885108).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Antarctic Peninsula is considered to be the last region of Antarctica to have been fully glaciated as a result of Cenozoic climatic cooling. As such, it was likely the last refugium for plants and animals that had inhabited the continent since it separated from the Gondwana supercontinent. Drill cores and seismic data acquired during two cruises (SHALDRIL I and II) in the northernmost Peninsula region yield a record that, when combined with existing data, indicates progressive cooling and associated changes in terrestrial vegetation over the course of the past 37 million years. Mountain glaciation began in the latest Eocene (approximately 37–34 Ma), contemporaneous with glaciation elsewhere on the continent and a reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. This climate cooling was accompanied by a decrease in diversity of the angiosperm-dominated vegetation that inhabited the northern peninsula during the Eocene. A mosaic of southern beech and conifer-dominated woodlands and tundra continued to occupy the region during the Oligocene (approximately 34–23 Ma). By the middle Miocene (approximately 16–11.6 Ma), localized pockets of limited tundra still existed at least until 12.8 Ma. The transition from temperate, alpine glaciation to a dynamic, polythermal ice sheet took place during the middle Miocene. The northernmost Peninsula was overridden by an ice sheet in the early Pliocene (approximately 5.3–3.6 Ma). The long cooling history of the peninsula is consistent with the extended timescales of tectonic evolution of the Antarctic margin, involving the opening of ocean passageways and associated establishment of circumpolar circulation.

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Published date: 12 July 2011
Keywords: cryosphere, paleoclimate, plant evolution, polar biota, climate change
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 194927
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/194927
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: cff44013-12d0-4316-9bce-012fb5383b2f
ORCID for S.M. Bohaty: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1193-7398

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Date deposited: 12 Aug 2011 14:33
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:39

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Contributors

Author: J.B. Anderson
Author: S. Warny
Author: R.A. Askin
Author: J.S. Wellner
Author: S.M. Bohaty ORCID iD
Author: A.E. Kirshner
Author: D.N. Livsey
Author: A.R. Simms
Author: T.R. Smith
Author: W. Ehrmann
Author: L.A. Lawver
Author: D. Barbeau
Author: S.W. Wise
Author: D.K. Kulhenek
Author: F.M. Weaver
Author: W. Majewski

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