Document Detail

Possible methane-induced polar warming in the early Eocene.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11536496     Owner:  NASA     Status:  MEDLINE    
Reconstructions of early Eocene climate depict a world in which the polar environments support mammals and reptiles, deciduous forests, warm oceans and rare frost conditions. At the same time, tropical sea surface temperatures are interpreted to have been the same as or slightly cooler than present values. The question of how to warm polar regions of Earth without noticeably warming the tropics remains unresolved; increased amounts of greenhouse gases would be expected to warm all latitudes equally. Oceanic heat transport has been postulated as a mechanism for heating high latitudes, but it is difficult to explain the dynamics that would achieve this. Here we consider estimates of Eocene wetland areas and suggest that the flux of methane, an important greenhouse gas, may have been substantially greater during the Eocene than at present. Elevated methane concentrations would have enhanced early Eocene global warming, and also might specifically have prevented severe winter cooling of polar regions because of the potential of atmospheric methane to promote the formation of optically thick, polar stratospheric ice clouds.
L C Sloan; J C Walker; T C Moore; D K Rea; J C Zachos
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nature     Volume:  357     ISSN:  0028-0836     ISO Abbreviation:  Nature     Publication Date:  1992 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1995-08-08     Completed Date:  1995-08-08     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0410462     Medline TA:  Nature     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  320-2     Citation Subset:  S    
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1063.
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MeSH Terms
Cold Climate*
Earth (Planet)
Geological Phenomena
Greenhouse Effect*
Oceans and Seas
Reg. No./Substance:
J C Walker / U Michigan, Ann Arbor, Dept Geological Sciences

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