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Subtropical Arctic Ocean temperatures during the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum

Sluijs, Appy, Schouten, Stefan, Pagani, Mark, Woltering, Martijn, Brinkhuis, Henk, Sinninghe Damsté, Jaap S., Dickens, Gerald R., Huber, Matthew, Reichart, Gert-Jan, Stein, Rüdiger, Matthiessen, Jens, Lourens, Lucas J., Pedenchouk, Nikolai, Backman, Jan, Moran, Kathryn, Clemens, S., Eynaud, F., Gattacceca, J., Jakobsson, M., Jordan, R., Kaminski, M., King, J., Koc, N., Martinez, N. C., McInroy, D., Moore, T. C. Jr., O´Regan, M., Pälike, Heiko, Rea, B., Rio, D., Sakamoto, T., Smith, D. C., StJohn, K. E. K., Suto, I., Suzuki, N., Watanabe, M. and Yamamoto, M. (2006) Subtropical Arctic Ocean temperatures during the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum Nature, 441, (7093), pp. 610-613. (doi:10.1038/nature04668).

Record type: Article


The Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum, ~55 million years ago, was a brief period of widespread, extreme climatic warming, that was associated with massive atmospheric greenhouse gas input. Although aspects of the resulting environmental changes are well documented at low latitudes, no data were available to quantify simultaneous changes in the Arctic region. Here we identify the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum in a marine sedimentary sequence obtained during the Arctic Coring Expedition. We show that sea surface temperatures near the North Pole increased from 18°C to over 23°C during this event. Such warm values imply the absence of ice and thus exclude the influence of ice-albedo feedbacks on this Arctic warming. At the same time, sea level rose while anoxic and euxinic conditions developed in the ocean's bottom waters and photic zone, respectively. Increasing temperature and sea level match expectations based on palaeoclimate model simulations, but the absolute polar temperatures that we derive before, during and after the event are more than 10°C warmer than those model-predicted. This suggests that higher-than-modern greenhouse gas concentrations must have operated in conjunction with other feedback mechanisms—perhaps polar stratospheric clouds or hurricane-induced ocean mixing – to amplify early Palaeogene polar temperatures.

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Submitted date: 4 August 2005
Published date: 1 June 2006


Local EPrints ID: 38380
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 94a6ecec-0f60-4059-82e7-a26d0fa863a8

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Date deposited: 07 Jun 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:39

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Author: Appy Sluijs
Author: Stefan Schouten
Author: Mark Pagani
Author: Martijn Woltering
Author: Henk Brinkhuis
Author: Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté
Author: Gerald R. Dickens
Author: Matthew Huber
Author: Gert-Jan Reichart
Author: Rüdiger Stein
Author: Jens Matthiessen
Author: Lucas J. Lourens
Author: Nikolai Pedenchouk
Author: Jan Backman
Author: Kathryn Moran
Author: S. Clemens
Author: F. Eynaud
Author: J. Gattacceca
Author: M. Jakobsson
Author: R. Jordan
Author: M. Kaminski
Author: J. King
Author: N. Koc
Author: N. C. Martinez
Author: D. McInroy
Author: T. C. Jr. Moore
Author: M. O´Regan
Author: Heiko Pälike
Author: B. Rea
Author: D. Rio
Author: T. Sakamoto
Author: D. C. Smith
Author: K. E. K. StJohn
Author: I. Suto
Author: N. Suzuki
Author: M. Watanabe
Author: M. Yamamoto

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