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Hot summers in the Bighorn Basin during the early Paleogene

Snell, Kathryn E. and Thrasher, Bridget L. and Eiler, John M. and Koch, Paul L. and Sloan, Lisa C. and Tabor, Neil J. (2013) Hot summers in the Bighorn Basin during the early Paleogene. Geology, 41 (1). pp. 55-58. ISSN 0091-7613. doi:10.1130/G33567.1.

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During the early Paleogene, climate in continental interiors is thought to have been warmer and more equable than today, but estimates of seasonal temperature variations during this period are limited. Global and regional climate models of the Paleogene predict cooler temperatures for continental interiors than are implied by proxy data and predict a seasonal range of temperature that is similar to today. Here, we present a record of summer temperatures derived from carbonate clumped isotope thermometry of paleosol carbonates from Paleogene deposits in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming (United States). Our summer temperature estimates are ∼18 °C greater than mean annual temperature estimated from analysis of fossil leaves. When coupled, these two records yield a seasonal range of temperature similar to that in the region today, with winter temperatures that are near freezing. These data are consistent with our high-resolution climate model output for the Early Eocene in the Bighorn Basin. We suggest that temperatures in continental interiors during the early Paleogene greenhouse were warmer in all seasons, but not more equable than today. If generally true, this removes one of the long-standing paradoxes in our understanding of terrestrial climate dynamics under greenhouse conditions.

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Additional Information:© 2012 Geological Society of America. Manuscript received 26 April 2012; Revised manuscript received 6 July 2012; Manuscript accepted 10 July 2012. We thank D. Dettman for providing bivalve fossils, S. Wing for helpful discussions, and D. Andreasen and H. Affek for laboratory assistance. Funding for this work was provided by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant EAR-0838576 to Koch and Snell and NSF grant EAR-1019896 and other NSF funding to Eiler.
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Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130201-133652567
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36744
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 Feb 2013 23:14
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:24

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