Report

Latitudinal Gradients in Greenhouse Seawater δ18O: Evidence from Eocene Sirenian Tooth Enamel

Science  22 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6028, pp. 455-458
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201182

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Abstract

The Eocene greenhouse climate state has been linked to a more vigorous hydrologic cycle at mid- and high latitudes; similar information on precipitation levels at low latitudes is, however, limited. Oxygen isotopic fluxes track moisture fluxes and, thus, the δ18O values of ocean surface waters can provide insight into hydrologic cycle changes. The offset between tropical δ18O values from sampled Eocene sirenian tooth enamel and modern surface waters is greater than the expected 1.0 per mil increase due to increased continental ice volume. This increased offset could result from suppression of surface-water δ18O values by a tropical, annual moisture balance substantially wetter than that of today. Results from an atmospheric general circulation model support this interpretation and suggest that Eocene low latitudes were extremely wet.

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