EGU2020-242, updated on 19 Nov 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth

Johann Philipp Klages1, Salzmann Ulrich2, Bickert Torsten3, Hillenbrand Claus-Dieter4, Gohl Karsten1, Kuhn Gerhard1, Bohaty Steven5, Titschack Jürgen3,6, Müller Juliane1,7, Frederichs Thomas7, Bauersachs Thorsten8, Ehrmann Werner9, van de Flierdt Tina10, Simões Pereira Patric10, Larter Robert4, Lohmann Gerrit1,3,11, Igor Niezgodzki1,12, Uenzelmann-Neben Gabriele1, Zundel Maximilian7, Spiegel Cornelia7, and the Science Team of Expedition PS104*
Johann Philipp Klages et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Marine Geology, Bremerhaven, Germany (
  • 2Northumbria University, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • 3MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, Bremen, Germany
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 6Senckenberg am Meer (SAM), Marine Research Department, Wilhelmshaven, Germany
  • 7University of Bremen, Faculty of Geosciences, Bremen, Germany
  • 8Christian-Albrechts-University, Institute of Geoscience, Kiel, Germany
  • 9University of Leipzig, Institute for Geophysics and Geology, Leipzig, Germany
  • 10Imperial College London, Department of Earth Science & Engineering, London, United Kingdom
  • 11University of Bremen, Environmental Physics, Bremen, Germany
  • 12ING PAN – Institute of Geological Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences, Biogeosystem Modelling Laboratory, Kraków, Poland
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The mid-Cretaceous was one of the warmest intervals of the past 140 million years (Myr) driven by atmospheric COlevels around 1000 ppmv. In the near absence of proximal geological records from south of the Antarctic Circle, it remains disputed whether polar ice could exist under such environmental conditions. Here we present results from a unique sedimentary sequence recovered from the West Antarctic shelf. This by far southernmost Cretaceous record contains an intact ~3 m-long network of in-situ fossil roots. The roots are embedded in a mudstone matrix bearing diverse pollen and spores, indicative of a temperate lowland rainforest environment at a palaeolatitude of ~82°S during the Turonian–Santonian (93–83 Myr). A climate model simulation shows that the reconstructed temperate climate at this high latitude requires a combination of both atmospheric COcontents of 1120–1680 ppmv and a vegetated land surface without major Antarctic glaciation, highlighting the important cooling effect exerted by ice albedo in high-COclimate worlds.

Science Team of Expedition PS104:

Mark, C., Chew, D., Francis, J.E., Nehrke, G., Schwarz, F., Smith, J.A., Freudenthal, T., Esper, O., Pälike, H., Ronge, T., Dziadek, R., Afanasyeva, V., Arndt, J. E., Ebermann, B., Gebhardt, C., Hochmuth, K., Küssner, K., Najman, Y., Riefstahl, F., Scheinert, M.

How to cite: Klages, J. P., Ulrich, S., Torsten, B., Claus-Dieter, H., Karsten, G., Gerhard, K., Steven, B., Jürgen, T., Juliane, M., Thomas, F., Thorsten, B., Werner, E., Tina, V. D. F., Patric, S. P., Robert, L., Gerrit, L., Niezgodzki, I., Gabriele, U.-N., Maximilian, Z., and Cornelia, S. and the Science Team of Expedition PS104: Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-242,, 2019


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