Southern high-latitude terrestrial climate change during the Paleocene–Eocene derived from a marine pollen record (ODP Site 1172, East Tasman Plateau)

  • Reconstructing the early Paleogene climate dynamics of terrestrial settings in the high southern latitudes is important to assess the role of high-latitude physical and biogeochemical processes in the global climate system. However, whereas a number of high-quality Paleogene climate records has become available for the marine realm of the high southern latitudes over the recent past, the long-term evolution of coeval terrestrial climates and ecosystems is yet poorly known. We here explore the climate and vegetation dynamics on Tasmania from the middle Paleocene to the early Eocene (60.7–54.2 Ma) based on a sporomorph record from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1172 on the East Tasman Plateau. Our results show that three distinctly different vegetation types thrived on Tasmania under a high-precipitation regime during the middle Paleocene to early Eocene, with each type representing different temperature conditions: (i) warm-temperate forests dominated by gymnosperms that were dominant during the middle and late Paleocene; (ii) cool-temperate forests dominated by southern beech (Nothofagus) and araucarians across the middle/late Paleocene transition interval (~59.5 to ~59.0 Ma); and (iii) paratropical forests rich in ferns that were established during and in the wake of the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). The transient establishment of cool-temperate forests lacking any frost-sensitive elements (i.e., palms and cycads) across the middle/late Paleocene transition interval indicates markedly cooler conditions, with the occurrence of frosts in winter, on Tasmania during that time. The integration of our sporomorph data with previously published TEX86-based sea-surface temperatures from ODP Site 1172 documents that the vegetation dynamics on Tasmania were closely linked with the temperature evolution in the Tasman sector of the Southwest Pacific region. Moreover, the comparison of our season-specific climate estimates for the sporomorph assemblages from ODP Site 1172 with the TEX86L- and TEX86H-based temperature data suggests a warm-season bias of both calibrations for the early Paleogene of the high southern latitudes.

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Author:Lineth Contreras, Jörg ProssGND, Peter K. Bijl, Robert B. O'HaraORCiD, J. Ian Raine, Appy Sluijs, Hendrik Brinkhuis
Parent Title (English):Climate of the past discussions
Publisher:Copernicus Ges.
Place of publication:Katlenburg-Lindau
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2014/01/20
Date of first Publication:2014/01/20
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/02/04
Page Number:50
First Page:291
Last Page:340
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Fachübergreifende Einrichtungen / Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F)
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0