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The rise and fall of the Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse climate


Huber, BT and MacLeod, KG and Watkins, DK and Coffin, MF, The rise and fall of the Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse climate, Global and Planetary Change, 167 pp. 1-23. ISSN 0921-8181 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Published by Elsevier B.V 2018

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2018.04.004


A compilation of foraminiferal stable isotope measurements from southern high latitude (SHL) sites provides a novel perspective important for understanding Earth's paleotemperature and paleoceanographic changes across the rise and fall of the Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse climate and the subsequent Paleogene climatic optimum. Both new and previously published results are placed within an improved chronostratigraphic framework for southern South Atlantic and southern Indian Ocean sites. Sites studied were located between 58 and 65S paleolatitude and were deposited at middle to upper bathyal paleodepths. Oxygen isotope records suggest similar trends in both bottom and surface water temperatures in the southern sectors of the South Atlantic and in the Indian Ocean basins. Warm conditions were present throughout the Albian, extreme warmth existed during the Cretaceous Thermal Maximum (early-mid-Turonian) through late Santonian, and long-term cooling began in the Campanian and culminated in Cretaceous temperature minima during the Maastrichtian. Gradients between surface and seafloor δ18O and δ13C values were unusually high throughout the 11.5 m.y. of extreme warmth during the Turonian-early Campanian, but these vertical gradients nearly disappeared by the early Maastrichtian.

In absolute terms, paleotemperature estimates that use standard assumptions for pre-glacial seawater suggest sub-Antarctic bottom waters were ≥21 C and sub-Antarctic surface waters were ≥27 C during the Turonian, values warmer than published climate models support. Alternatively, estimated temperatures can be reduced to the upper limits of model results through freshening of high latitude waters but only if there were enhanced precipitation of water with quite low δ18O values. Regardless, Turonian planktonic δ18O values are ∼1.5 lower than minimum values reported for the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) from the same region, a difference which corresponds to Turonian surface temperatures ∼6 C warmer than peak PETM temperatures if Turonian and Paleocene temperatures are estimated using the same assumptions. It is likely that warm oceans surrounding and penetrating interior Antarctica (given higher relative sea level) prevented growth of Antarctic ice sheets at all but the highest elevations from the late Aptian through late Campanian; however, Maastrichtian temperatures may have been cool enough to allow growth of small, ephemeral ice sheets. The standard explanation for the sustained warmth during Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse climate invokes higher atmospheric CO2 levels from volcanic outgassing, but correlation among temperature estimates, proxy estimates of pCO2, and intervals of high fluxes of both mafic and silicic >volcanism> are mostly poor. This comparison demonstrates that the relative timing between events and their putative consequences need to be better constrained to test and more fully understand relationships among volcanism, pCO2, temperature ocean circulation, Earth's biota and the carbon cycle.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Cretaceous Hot Greenhouse, foraminiferal stable isotopes, volcanic outgassing, pCO2 proxies, greenhouse glacier hypothesis, southern high latitudes
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Stratigraphy (incl. biostratigraphy, sequence stratigraphy and basin analysis)
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Coffin, MF (Professor Mike Coffin)
ID Code:128931
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LE160100067)
Web of Science® Times Cited:112
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2018-10-26
Last Modified:2018-11-27

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