Major intensification of Atlantic overturning circulation at the onset of Paleogene greenhouse warmth

  • During the Late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic the Earth experienced prolonged climatic cooling most likely caused by decreasing volcanic activity and atmospheric CO2 levels. However, the causes and mechanisms of subsequent major global warming culminating in the late Paleocene to Eocene greenhouse climate remain enigmatic. We present deep and intermediate water Nd-isotope records from the North and South Atlantic to decipher the control of the opening Atlantic Ocean on ocean circulation and its linkages to the evolution of global climate. The marked convergence of Nd-isotope signatures 59 million years ago indicates a major intensification of deep-water exchange between the North and South Atlantic, which coincided with the turning point of deep-water temperatures towards early Paleogene warming. We propose that this intensification of Atlantic overturning circulation in concert with increased atmospheric CO2 from continental rifting marked a climatic tipping point contributing to a more efficient distribution of heat over the planet.

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Author:Sietske J. Batenburg, Silke VoigtORCiDGND, Oliver Friedrich, Anne Osborne, André Bornemann, Tina Klein, Lucia Pérez-Díaz, Martin Frank
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Nature Communications
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group UK
Place of publication:[London]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/11/23
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/12/20
Tag:Climate sciences; Ocean sciences; Palaeoceanography; Palaeoclimate
Issue:1, Art. 4954
Page Number:8
First Page:1
Last Page:8
Rights and permissions: Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0