Inconsistencies Between Pangean Reconstructions and Basic Climate Controls

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Science  23 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5854, pp. 1284-1286
DOI: 10.1126/science.1146639

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The supercontinent Pangea dominated our planet from the Permian into the Jurassic. Paleomagnetic reconstructions have been used to estimate the latitudinal position of Pangea during this 100-million-year period. Atmospheric circulation, recorded by eolian sandstones in the southwestern United States, shows a broad sweep of northeasterly winds over their northernmost extent, curving to become northwesterly in the south: This evidence is consistent with paleomagnetic reconstructions of the region straddling the equator in the Early Permian but is at odds with its northward movement to about 20°N by the Early Jurassic. At least one of the following scenarios must be true: The latitude based on paleomagnetism is incorrect; the interpretation of how winds shaped the dunes is mistaken; the basic climate controls in the Jurassic were different from those of today; or the paleogeographic reconstructions available are insufficient to adequately reproduce the wind fields responsible for dune formation.

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