The Cenozoic palaeoenvironment of the Arctic Ocean


Kathryn Moran, University of Rhode Island
Jan Backman, Stockholms universitet
Henk Brinkhuis, Universiteit Utrecht
Steven C. Clemens, Brown University
Thomas Cronin, United States Geological Survey
Gerald R. Dickens, Rice University
Frédérique Eynaud, Université de Bordeaux
Jérôme Gattacceca, CNRS Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Martin Jakobsson, Stockholms universitet
Richard W. Jordan, Yamagata University
Michael Kaminski, University College London
John King, University of Rhode Island
Nalan Koc, Norsk Polarinstitutt
Alexey Krylov
Nahysa Martinez, Boston University
Jens Matthiessen, Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
David McInroy, British Geological Survey
Theodore C. Moore, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Jonaotaro Onodera, Kyushu University
Matthew O'Regan, University of Rhode Island
Heiko Pälike, University of Southampton
Brice Rea, University of Aberdeen
Domenico Rio, Università degli Studi di Padova
Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
David C. Smith, University of Rhode Island
Ruediger Stein, Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Kristen St John, James Madison University
Itsuki Suto, Nagoya University
Noritoshi Suzuki, Tohoku University
Kozo Takahashi, Kyushu University
Mahito Watanabe, Geological Survey of Japan
Masanobu Yamamoto, Hokkaido University
John Farrell, University of Rhode Island
Martin Frank, GEOMAR - Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel
Peter Kubik, ETH Zürich
Wilfried Jokat, Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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The history of the Arctic Ocean during the Cenozoic era (0-65 million years ago) is largely unknown from direct evidence. Here we present a Cenozoic palaeoceanographic record constructed from >400 m of sediment core from a recent drilling expedition to the Lomonosov ridge in the Arctic Ocean. Our record shows a palaeoenvironmental transition from a warm 'greenhouse' world, during the late Palaeocene and early Eocene epochs, to a colder 'icehouse' world influenced by sea ice and icebergs from the middle Eocene epoch to the present. For the most recent ∼14 Myr, we find sedimentation rates of 1-2 cm per thousand years, in stark contrast to the substantially lower rates proposed in earlier studies; this record of the Neogene reveals cooling of the Arctic that was synchronous with the expansion of Greenland ice (∼3.2 Myr ago) and East Antarctic ice (∼14 Myr ago). We find evidence for the first occurrence of ice-rafted debris in the middle Eocene epoch (∼45 Myr ago), some 35 Myr earlier than previously thought; fresh surface waters were present at ∼49 Myr ago, before the onset of ice-rafted debris. Also, the temperatures of surface waters during the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum (∼55 Myr ago) appear to have been substantially warmer than previously estimated. The revised timing of the earliest Arctic cooling events coincides with those from Antarctica, supporting arguments for bipolar symmetry in climate change. © 2006 Nature Publishing Group.

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