Articles | Volume 14, issue 1
Research article
15 Jan 2018
Research article |  | 15 Jan 2018

Tropical Atlantic climate and ecosystem regime shifts during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Joost Frieling, Gert-Jan Reichart, Jack J. Middelburg, Ursula Röhl, Thomas Westerhold, Steven M. Bohaty, and Appy Sluijs

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Cited articles

Abdul Aziz, H., Hilgen, F. J., van Luijk, G. M., Sluijs, A., Kraus, M. J., Pares, J. M., and Gingerich, P. D.: Astronomical climate control on paleosol stacking patterns in the upper Paleocene-lower Eocene Willwood Formation, Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, Geology, 36, 531–534,, 2008.
Algeo, T. J. and Ingall, E.: Sedimentary Corg:P ratios, paleocean ventilation, and Phanerozoic atmospheric pO2, Palaeogeogr. Palaeocl., 256, 130–155,, 2007.
Awad, W. K. and Oboh-Ikuenobe, F. E.: Early Paleogene dinoflagellate cysts from ODP Hole 959D, Côte d'Ivoire-Ghana Transform Margin, West Africa: New species, biostratigraphy and paleoenvironmental implications, J. Afr. Earth Sci., 123, 123–144,, 2016.
Aze, T., Pearson, P. N., Dickson, A. J., Badger, M. P. S., Bown, P. R., Pancost, R. D., Gibbs, S. J., Huber, B. T., Leng, M. J., Coe, A. L., Cohen, A. S., and Foster, G. L.: Extreme warming of tropical waters during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, Geology, 42, 739–742,, 2014.
Barke, J., Abels, H. A., Sangiorgi, F., Greenwood, D. R., Sweet, A. R., Donders, T., Reichart, G.-J., Lotter, A. F., and Brinkhuis, H.: Orbitally forced Azolla blooms and Middle Eocene Arctic hydrology: Clues from palynology, Geology, 39, 427–430,, 2011.
Short summary
Past periods of rapid global warming such as the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum are used to study biotic response to climate change. We show that very high peak PETM temperatures in the tropical Atlantic (~ 37 ºC) caused heat stress in several marine plankton groups. However, only slightly cooler temperatures afterwards allowed highly diverse plankton communities to bloom. This shows that tropical plankton communities may be susceptible to extreme warming, but may also recover rapidly.