A Transient Rise in Tropical Sea Surface Temperature during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

James C. Zachos, Michael W. Wara, Steven Bohaty, Margaret L. Delaney, Maria Rose Petrizzo, Amanda Brill, Timothy Bralower, Isabella Premoli-Silva

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Abstract

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) has been attributed to a rapid rise in greenhouse gas levels. If so, warming should have occurred at all latitudes, although amplified toward the poles. Existing records reveal an increase in high-latitude sea surface temperatures (SSTs) (8° to 10°C) and in bottom water temperatures (4° to 5°C). To date, however, the character of the tropical SST response during this event remains unconstrained. Here we address this deficiency by using paired oxygen isotope and minor element (magnesium/calcium) ratios of planktonic foraminifera from a tropical Pacific core to estimate changes in SST. Using mixed-layer foraminifera, we found that the combined proxies imply a 4° to 5°C rise in Pacific SST during the PETM. These results would necessitate a rise in atmospheric pCO 2 to levels three to four times as high as those estimated for the late Pateocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1554
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume302
Issue number5650
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 28 2003

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Zachos, J. C., Wara, M. W., Bohaty, S., Delaney, M. L., Petrizzo, M. R., Brill, A., Bralower, T., & Premoli-Silva, I. (2003). A Transient Rise in Tropical Sea Surface Temperature during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Science, 302(5650), 1551-1554. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1090110