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Deep-Sea Temperature and Circulation Changes at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Science  24 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5730, pp. 1894-1898
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109202

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Abstract

A rapid increase in greenhouse gas levels is thought to have fueled global warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Foraminiferal magnesium/calcium ratios indicate that bottom waters warmed by 4° to 5°C, similar to tropical and subtropical surface ocean waters, implying no amplification of warming in high-latitude regions of deep-water formation under ice-free conditions. Intermediate waters warmed before the carbon isotope excursion, in association with downwelling in the North Pacific and reduced Southern Ocean convection, supporting changing circulation as the trigger for methane hydrate release. A switch to deep convection in the North Pacific at the PETM onset could have amplified and sustained warming.

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