01 Apr 2021

01 Apr 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Evolution of continental temperature seasonality from the Eocene greenhouse to the Oligocene icehouse - A model-data comparison

Agathe Toumoulin1, Delphine Tardif1,2, Yannick Donnadieu1, Alexis Licht1, Jean-Baptiste Ladant3, Lutz Kunzmann4, and Guillaume Dupont-Nivet5,6 Agathe Toumoulin et al.
  • 1Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, INRA, Collège de France, CEREGE, 13545 Aix‐en‐Provence, France
  • 2Université de Paris, Institut de physique du globe de Paris, CNRS, F-75005 Paris, France
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 4Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden, Königsbrücker Landstraße 159, 01109 Dresden, Germany
  • 5Géosciences Rennes, UMR CNRS 6118, Univ Rennes, 35042 Rennes, France
  • 6Institute of Geosciences, Potsdam University, 14469 Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. At the junction of greenhouse and icehouse climate phases, the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT) is a key moment in the history of the Cenozoic climate. Yet, while it is associated with severe extinctions and biodiversity turnovers, terrestrial climate evolution remains poorly resolved. Paleobotanical and geochemical continental records suggest a marked cooling in winter, leading to the development of more pronounced seasons (i.e., increase of the Mean Annual Range of Temperature, MATR) in parts of the Northern Hemisphere. However, this increase of the annual temperature range has been poorly studied by climate models; uncertainties remain about the geographical extent of this phenomenon and the associated climatic processes. Although other components of the climate system vary seasonally (e.g., precipitation, wind), we therefore focus on the seasonality of temperatures only. In order to better understand and describe temperature seasonality patterns from the middle Eocene to the early Oligocene, we use the Earth System Model IPSL-CM5A2 and a set of simulations reconstructing the EOT through three major climate forcings: pCO2 decrease (1120/840 to 560 ppm), the Antarctic ice-sheet (AIS) formation, and the associated sea-level decrease (-70 m). Our simulations suggest that seasonality changes across the EOT rely on the combined effects of the different tested mechanisms which result in zonal to regional climate responses. Broad continental areas of increased MATR reflect a strengthening of seasonality (from 4°C to > 10°C increase of the MATR) across the EOT in agreement with MATR and Coldest Month Mean Temperatures (CMMT) changes indicated by a review of existing proxies. pCO2 decrease induces a zonal pattern with alternating increasing and decreasing seasonality bands. In the northern high-latitudes, it results in sea-ice and surface albedo feedback, driving a strong increase in seasonality (up to 8°C MATR increase). Conversely, the onset of the AIS is responsible for a more constant surface albedo, which leads to a strong decrease in seasonality in the southern mid- to high-latitudes (> 40°S). Finally, continental areas emerged due to the sea level lowering cause the largest increase in seasonality and explain most of the global heterogeneity in MATR changes (∆MATR) patterns. ∆MATR patterns we reconstruct are consistent with the variability of the EOT biotic crisis intensity across the Northern Hemisphere.

Agathe Toumoulin et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-27 "Evolution of continental temperature seasonality from the Eocene greenhouse to the Oligocene icehouse - A model-data comparison"', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Agathe Toumoulin, 27 Jul 2021