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Possible role of oceanic heat transport in early Eocene climateIncreased oceanic heat transport has often been cited as a means of maintaining warm high-latitude surface temperatures in many intervals of the geologic past, including the early Eocene. Although the excess amount of oceanic heat transport required by warm high latitude sea surface temperatures can be calculated empirically, determining how additional oceanic heat transport would take place has yet to be accomplished. That the mechanisms of enhanced poleward oceanic heat transport remain undefined in paleoclimate reconstructions is an important point that is often overlooked. Using early Eocene climate as an example, we consider various ways to produce enhanced poleward heat transport and latitudinal energy redistribution of the sign and magnitude required by interpreted early Eocene conditions. Our interpolation of early Eocene paleotemperature data indicate that an approximately 30% increase in poleward heat transport would be required to maintain Eocene high-latitude temperatures. This increased heat transport appears difficult to accomplish by any means of ocean circulation if we use present ocean circulation characteristics to evaluate early Eocene rates. Either oceanic processes were very different from those of the present to produce the early Eocene climate conditions or oceanic heat transport was not the primary cause of that climate. We believe that atmospheric processes, with contributions from other factors, such as clouds, were the most likely primary cause of early Eocene climate.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Sloan, L. C.
(Institute of Marine Science, University of California Santa Cruz, United States)
Walker, J. C.
Moore, T. C. Jr
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: Paleoceanography
Volume: 10
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0883-8305
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Number 52-30
NASA Program Exobiology
NASA Discipline Exobiology
Non-NASA Center
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