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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-28
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 28 Mar 2018

Research article | 28 Mar 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Temperature seasonality in the North American continental interior during the early Eocene climatic optimum

Ethan G. Hyland1,2, Katharine W. Huntington1, Nathan D. Sheldon3, and Tammo Reichgelt4 Ethan G. Hyland et al.
  • 1Department of Earth & Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
  • 2Department of Marine, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
  • 3Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
  • 4Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA

Abstract. Paleogene greenhouse climate equability has long been a paradox in paleoclimate research. However, recent developments in proxy and modeling methods have suggested that strong seasonality may be a feature of at least some greenhouse periods. Here we present the first multi-proxy record of seasonal temperatures during the Paleogene from paleofloras, paleosol geochemistry, and carbonate clumped isotope thermometry in the Green River Basin (Wyoming, USA). These combined temperature records allow for the reconstruction of past seasonality in the continental interior, which shows that temperatures were warmer in all seasons during the peak early Eocene climatic optimum and that the mean annual range of temperature was high, similar to the modern value (~26°C). Proxy data and downscaled Eocene regional climate model results suggest amplified seasonality during greenhouse events. Increased seasonality reconstructed for the early Eocene is similar in scope to the higher seasonal range predicted by downscaled climate model ensembles for future high-CO2 emissions scenarios. Overall, these data and model comparisons have substantial implications for understanding greenhouse climates in general, and may be important for predicting future seasonal climate regimes and their impacts in continental regions.

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Short summary
Climate equability has been a paradox in paleoclimate research, but modeling suggests that strong seasonality should be a feature of greenhouse periods as well. Records of temperature from floral assemblages, paleosol geochemistry, clumped isotope thermometry, and downscaled models during the early Eocene show that mean annual range of temperature was high, and may have increased during warming events. This has implications for predicting future seasonal climate impacts in continental regions.
Climate equability has been a paradox in paleoclimate research, but modeling suggests that...
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