Heterogeneity in global vegetation and terrestrial climate change during the late Eocene to early Oligocene transition.
ABSTRACT: Rapid global cooling at the Eocene - Oligocene Transition (EOT), ~33.9-33.5?Ma, is widely considered to mark the onset of the modern icehouse world. A large and rapid drop in atmospheric pCO2 has been proposed as the driving force behind extinctions in the marine realm and glaciation on Antarctica. However, the global terrestrial response to this cooling is uncertain. Here we present the first global vegetation and terrestrial temperature reconstructions for the EOT. Using an extensive palynological dataset, that has been statistically grouped into palaeo-biomes, we show a more transitional nature of terrestrial climate change by indicating a spatial and temporal heterogeneity of vegetation change at the EOT in both hemispheres. The reconstructed terrestrial temperatures show for many regions a cooling that started well before the EOT and continued into the Early Oligocene. We conclude that the heterogeneous pattern of global vegetation change has been controlled by a combination of multiple forcings, such as tectonics, sea-level fall and long-term decline in greenhouse gas concentrations during the late Eocene to early Oligocene, and does not represent a single response to a rapid decline in atmospheric pCO2 at the EOT.
Project description:Geochemical and modeling studies suggest that the transition from the "greenhouse" state of the Late Eocene to the "icehouse" conditions of the Oligocene 34-33.5 Ma was triggered by a reduction of atmospheric pCO2 that enabled the rapid buildup of a permanent ice sheet on the Antarctic continent. Marine records show that the drop in pCO2 during this interval was accompanied by a significant decline in high-latitude sea surface and deep ocean temperature and enhanced seasonality in middle and high latitudes. However, terrestrial records of this climate transition show heterogeneous responses to changing pCO2 and ocean temperatures, with some records showing a significant time lag in the temperature response to declining pCO2. We measured the ?47 of aragonite shells of the freshwater gastropod Viviparus lentus from the Solent Group, Hampshire Basin, United Kingdom, to reconstruct terrestrial temperature and hydrologic change in the North Atlantic region during the Eocene-Oligocene transition. Our data show a decrease in growing-season surface water temperatures (~10 °C) during the Eocene-Oligocene transition, corresponding to an average decrease in mean annual air temperature of ~4-6 °C from the Late Eocene to Early Oligocene. The magnitude of cooling is similar to observed decreases in North Atlantic sea surface temperature over this interval and occurs during major glacial expansion. This suggests a close linkage between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, Northern Hemisphere temperature, and expansion of the Antarctic ice sheets.
Project description:Cenozoic climate cooling at the advent of the Eocene-Oligocene transition (EOT), ~33.7?Ma ago, was stamped in the ocean by a series of climatic events albeit the impact of this global climatic transition on terrestrial environments is still fragmentary. Yet archival constraints on Late Eocene atmospheric circulation are scarce in (tropical) monsoonal Asia, and the paucity of terrestrial records hampers a meaningful comparison of the long-term climatic trends between oceanic and continental realms. Here we report new sedimentological data from the Jianchuan basin (SE Tibet) arguing for wetter climatic conditions in monsoonal Asia at ~35.5?Ma almost coevally to the aridification recognized northwards in the Xining basin. We show that the occurrence of flash-flood events in semi-arid to sub-humid palustrine-sublacustrine settings preceded the development of coal-bearing deposits in swampy-like environments, thus paving the way to a more humid climate in SE Tibet ahead from the EOT. We suggest that this moisture redistribution possibly reflects more northern and intensified ITCZ-induced tropical rainfall in monsoonal Asia around 35.5?Ma, in accordance with recent sea-surface temperature reconstructions from equatorial oceanic records. Our findings thus highlight an important period of climatic upheaval in terrestrial Asian environments ~2-4 millions years prior to the EOT.
Project description:The first major build-up of Antarctic glaciation occurred in two consecutive stages across the Eocene-Oligocene transition (EOT): the EOT-1 cooling event at ~34.1-33.9?Ma and the Oi-1 glaciation event at ~33.8-33.6?Ma. Detailed orbital-scale terrestrial environmental responses to these events remain poorly known. Here we present magnetic and geochemical climate records from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau margin that are dated precisely from ~35.5 to 31?Ma by combined magneto- and astro-chronology. These records suggest a hydroclimate transition at ~33.7?Ma from eccentricity dominated cycles to oscillations paced by a combination of eccentricity, obliquity, and precession, and confirm that major Asian aridification and cooling occurred at Oi-1. We conclude that this terrestrial orbital response transition coincided with a similar transition in the marine benthic ?18O record for global ice volume and deep-sea temperature variations. The dramatic reorganization of the Asian climate system coincident with Oi-1 was, thus, a response to coeval atmospheric CO2 decline and continental-scale Antarctic glaciation.
Project description:Approximately 34 million years ago across the Eocene-Oligocene transition (EOT), Earth's climate tipped from a largely unglaciated state into one that sustained large ice sheets on Antarctica. Antarctic glaciation is attributed to a threshold response to slow decline in atmospheric CO2 but our understanding of the feedback processes triggered and of climate change on the other contents is limited. Here we present new geochemical records of terrigenous dust accumulating on the sea floor across the EOT from a site in the central equatorial Pacific. We report a change in dust chemistry from an Asian affinity to a Central-South American provenance that occurs geologically synchronously with the initiation of stepwise global cooling, glaciation of Antarctica and aridification on the northern continents. We infer that the inter-tropical convergence zone of intense precipitation extended to our site during late Eocene, at least four degrees latitude further south than today, but that it migrated northwards in step with global cooling and initiation of Antarctic glaciation. Our findings point to an atmospheric teleconnection between extratropical cooling and rainfall climate in the tropics and the mid-latitude belt of the westerlies operating across the most pivotal transition in climate state of the Cenozoic Era.
Project description:Today coral reefs are threatened by changes to seawater conditions associated with rapid anthropogenic global climate change. Yet, since the Cenozoic, these organisms have experienced major fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 levels (from greenhouse conditions of high pCO2 in the Eocene to low pCO2 ice-house conditions in the Oligocene-Miocene) and a dramatically changing ocean Mg/Ca ratio. Here we show that the most diverse, widespread, and abundant reef-building coral genus Acropora (20 morphological groups and 150 living species) has not only survived these environmental changes, but has maintained its distinct skeletal biomineralization pattern for at least 40 My: Well-preserved fossil Acropora skeletons from the Eocene, Oligocene, and Miocene show ultra-structures indistinguishable from those of extant representatives of the genus and their aragonitic skeleton Mg/Ca ratios trace the inferred ocean Mg/Ca ratio precisely since the Eocene. Therefore, among marine biogenic carbonate fossils, well-preserved acroporid skeletons represent material with very high potential for reconstruction of ancient ocean chemistry.
Project description:The Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT), approximately 34?Ma ago, marks a period of major global cooling and inception of the Antarctic ice sheet. Proxies of deep circulation suggest a contemporaneous onset or strengthening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Proxy evidence of gradual salinification of the North Atlantic and tectonically driven isolation of the Arctic suggest that closing the Arctic-Atlantic gateway could have triggered the AMOC at the EOT. We demonstrate this trigger of the AMOC using a new paleoclimate model with late Eocene boundary conditions. The control simulation reproduces Eocene observations of low Arctic salinities. Subsequent closure of the Arctic-Atlantic gateway triggers the AMOC by blocking freshwater inflow from the Arctic. Salt advection feedbacks then lead to cessation of overturning in the North Pacific. These circulation changes imply major warming of the North Atlantic Ocean, and simultaneous cooling of the North Pacific, but no interhemispheric change in temperatures.
Project description: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 CO(2) 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.
Project description:Plastome sequences for 18 species of the PACMAD grasses (subfamilies Panicoideae, Aristidoideae, Chloridoideae, Micrairoideae, Arundinoideae, Danthonioideae) were analyzed phylogenomically. Next generation sequencing methods were used to provide complete plastome sequences for 12 species. Sanger sequencing was performed to determine the plastome of one species, Hakonechloa macra, to provide a reference for annotation. These analyses were conducted to resolve deep subfamilial relationships within the clade. Divergence estimates were assessed to determine potential factors that led to the rapid radiation of this lineage and its dominance of warmer open habitats.New plastomes were completely sequenced and characterized for 13 PACMAD species. An autapomorphic ~1140 bp deletion was found in Hakonechloa macra putatively pseudogenizing rpl14 and eliminating rpl16 from this plastome. Phylogenomic analyses support Panicoideae as the sister group to the ACMAD clade. Complete plastome sequences provide greater support at deep nodes within the PACMAD clade. The initial diversification of PACMAD subfamilies was estimated to occur at 32.4 mya.Phylogenomic analyses of complete plastomes provides resolution for deep relationships of PACMAD grasses. The divergence estimate of 32.4 mya at the crown node of the PACMAD clade coincides with the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT). The Eocene was a period of global cooling and drying, which led to forest fragmentation and the expansion of open habitats now dominated by these grasses. Understanding how these grasses are related and determining a cause for their rapid radiation allows for future predictions of grassland distribution in the face of a changing global climate.
Project description:Falling atmospheric CO2 levels led to cooling through the Eocene and the expansion of Antarctic ice sheets close to their modern size near the beginning of the Oligocene, a period of poorly documented climate. Here, we present a record of climate evolution across the entire Oligocene (33.9 to 23.0 Ma) based on TEX86 sea surface temperature (SST) estimates from southwestern Atlantic Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 516 (paleolatitude ?36°S) and western equatorial Atlantic Ocean Drilling Project Site 929 (paleolatitude ?0°), combined with a compilation of existing SST records and climate modeling. In this relatively low CO2 Oligocene world (?300 to 700 ppm), warm climates similar to those of the late Eocene continued with only brief interruptions, while the Antarctic ice sheet waxed and waned. SSTs are spatially heterogenous, but generally support late Oligocene warming coincident with declining atmospheric CO2 This Oligocene warmth, especially at high latitudes, belies a simple relationship between climate and atmospheric CO2 and/or ocean gateways, and is only partially explained by current climate models. Although the dominant climate drivers of this enigmatic Oligocene world remain unclear, our results help fill a gap in understanding past Cenozoic climates and the way long-term climate sensitivity responded to varying background climate states.
Project description:During the late Eocene, the Earth's climate experienced several transient temperature fluctuations including the Vonhof cooling event (C16n.1n; ~35.8?Ma) hitherto known mainly from the southern oceans. Here we reconstruct sea-surface temperatures (SST) and provide ?18O and ?13C foraminiferal records for the late Eocene and earliest Oligocene in the North Sea Basin. Our data reveal two main perturbations: (1), an abrupt brief cooling of ~4.5?°C dated to ~35.8?Ma and synchronous with the Vonhof cooling, which thus may be a global event, and (2) a gradual nearly 10?°C temperature fall starting at 36.1?Ma and culminating near the Eocene-Oligocene transition at ~33.9?Ma. The late Priabonian temperature trend in the North Sea shows some resemblance IODP Site U1404 from the North Atlantic, offshore Newfoundland; and is in contrast to the more abrupt change observed in the deep-sea ?18O records from the southern oceans. The cooling in the North Sea is large compared to the pattern seen in the North Atlantic record. This difference may be influenced by a late Eocene closure of the warm gateways connecting the North Sea with the Atlantic and Tethys oceans.