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Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth

Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth
Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth
The mid-Cretaceous period was one of the warmest intervals of the past 140 million years1,2,3,4,5, driven by atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of around 1,000 parts per million by volume6. In the near absence of proximal geological records from south of the Antarctic Circle, it is disputed whether polar ice could exist under such environmental conditions. Here we use a sedimentary sequence recovered from the West Antarctic shelf—the southernmost Cretaceous record reported so far—and show that a temperate lowland rainforest environment existed at a palaeolatitude of about 82° S during the Turonian–Santonian age (92 to 83 million years ago). This record contains an intact 3-metre-long network of in situ fossil roots embedded in a mudstone matrix containing diverse pollen and spores. A climate model simulation shows that the reconstructed temperate climate at this high latitude requires a combination of both atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 1,120–1,680 parts per million by volume and a vegetated land surface without major Antarctic glaciation, highlighting the important cooling effect exerted by ice albedo under high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
0028-0836
81-86
Klages, Johann P.
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Salzmann, Ulrich
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Bickert, Torsten
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Hillenbrand, Claus-dieter
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Gohl, Karsten
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Kuhn, Gerhard
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Bohaty, Steven M.
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Titschack, Jürgen
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Müller, Juliane
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Frederichs, Thomas
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Bauersachs, Thorsten
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Ehrmann, Werner
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Van De Flierdt, Tina
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Pereira, Patric Simões
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Larter, Robert D.
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Lohmann, Gerrit
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Niezgodzki, Igor
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Uenzelmann-neben, Gabriele
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Zundel, Maximilian
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Spiegel, Cornelia
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Mark, Chris
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Chew, David
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Francis, Jane E.
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Nehrke, Gernot
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Schwarz, Florian
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Smith, James A.
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Freudenthal, Tim
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Esper, Oliver
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Pälike, Heiko
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Ronge, Thomas A.
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Dziadek, Ricarda
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Science Team of Expedition PS104
Klages, Johann P.
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Salzmann, Ulrich
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Bickert, Torsten
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Hillenbrand, Claus-dieter
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Gohl, Karsten
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Kuhn, Gerhard
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Bohaty, Steven M.
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Titschack, Jürgen
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Müller, Juliane
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Frederichs, Thomas
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Bauersachs, Thorsten
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Ehrmann, Werner
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Van De Flierdt, Tina
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Pereira, Patric Simões
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Larter, Robert D.
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Lohmann, Gerrit
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Niezgodzki, Igor
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Uenzelmann-neben, Gabriele
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Zundel, Maximilian
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Spiegel, Cornelia
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Mark, Chris
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Chew, David
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Francis, Jane E.
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Nehrke, Gernot
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Schwarz, Florian
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Smith, James A.
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Freudenthal, Tim
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Esper, Oliver
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Pälike, Heiko
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Ronge, Thomas A.
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Dziadek, Ricarda
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Klages, Johann P., Salzmann, Ulrich, Bickert, Torsten, Hillenbrand, Claus-dieter, Gohl, Karsten, Kuhn, Gerhard, Bohaty, Steven M., Titschack, Jürgen, Müller, Juliane, Frederichs, Thomas, Bauersachs, Thorsten, Ehrmann, Werner, Van De Flierdt, Tina, Pereira, Patric Simões, Larter, Robert D., Lohmann, Gerrit, Niezgodzki, Igor, Uenzelmann-neben, Gabriele, Zundel, Maximilian, Spiegel, Cornelia, Mark, Chris, Chew, David, Francis, Jane E., Nehrke, Gernot, Schwarz, Florian, Smith, James A., Freudenthal, Tim, Esper, Oliver, Pälike, Heiko, Ronge, Thomas A. and Dziadek, Ricarda , Science Team of Expedition PS104 (2020) Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth. Nature, 580 (7801), 81-86. (doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2148-5).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The mid-Cretaceous period was one of the warmest intervals of the past 140 million years1,2,3,4,5, driven by atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of around 1,000 parts per million by volume6. In the near absence of proximal geological records from south of the Antarctic Circle, it is disputed whether polar ice could exist under such environmental conditions. Here we use a sedimentary sequence recovered from the West Antarctic shelf—the southernmost Cretaceous record reported so far—and show that a temperate lowland rainforest environment existed at a palaeolatitude of about 82° S during the Turonian–Santonian age (92 to 83 million years ago). This record contains an intact 3-metre-long network of in situ fossil roots embedded in a mudstone matrix containing diverse pollen and spores. A climate model simulation shows that the reconstructed temperate climate at this high latitude requires a combination of both atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 1,120–1,680 parts per million by volume and a vegetated land surface without major Antarctic glaciation, highlighting the important cooling effect exerted by ice albedo under high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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Klages_etal_Late_Cretaceous_ASE_accepted_version - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 23 January 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 1 April 2020
Published date: 2 April 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 440623
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/440623
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 198aa7b2-11f2-45c7-9438-7477bb5bf755
ORCID for Steven M. Bohaty: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1193-7398

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Date deposited: 12 May 2020 16:46
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:08

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Contributors

Author: Johann P. Klages
Author: Ulrich Salzmann
Author: Torsten Bickert
Author: Claus-dieter Hillenbrand
Author: Karsten Gohl
Author: Gerhard Kuhn
Author: Jürgen Titschack
Author: Juliane Müller
Author: Thomas Frederichs
Author: Thorsten Bauersachs
Author: Werner Ehrmann
Author: Tina Van De Flierdt
Author: Patric Simões Pereira
Author: Robert D. Larter
Author: Gerrit Lohmann
Author: Igor Niezgodzki
Author: Gabriele Uenzelmann-neben
Author: Maximilian Zundel
Author: Cornelia Spiegel
Author: Chris Mark
Author: David Chew
Author: Jane E. Francis
Author: Gernot Nehrke
Author: Florian Schwarz
Author: James A. Smith
Author: Tim Freudenthal
Author: Oliver Esper
Author: Heiko Pälike
Author: Thomas A. Ronge
Author: Ricarda Dziadek
Corporate Author: Science Team of Expedition PS104

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