Abrupt plant physiological changes in southern New Zealand at the termination of the Mi-1 event reflect shifts in hydroclimate and pCO2

Tammo Reichgelt, William J. D'Andrea, Bethany R.S. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A rise in atmospheric CO2 is believed to be necessary for the termination of large-scale glaciations. Although the Antarctic Ice Sheet is estimated to have melted from ∼125% to ∼50% its modern size, there is thus far no evidence for an increase in atmospheric CO2 associated with the Mi-1 glacial termination in the earliest Miocene. Here, we present evidence from a high-resolution terrestrial record of leaf physiological change in southern New Zealand for an abrupt increase in atmospheric CO2 coincident with the termination of the Mi-1 glaciation and lasting approximately 20 kyr. Quantitative pCO2 estimates, made using a leaf gas exchange model, suggest that atmospheric CO2 levels may have doubled during this period, from 516±111ppm to 1144±410ppm, and subsequently returned back to 425±53ppm. The 20-kyr interval with high pCO2 estimates is also associated with a period of increased moisture supply to southern New Zealand, inferred from carbon and hydrogen isotopes of terrestrial leaf waxes. The results provide the first high-resolution record of terrestrial environmental change at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary, document a ∼20 kyr interval of elevated pCO2 and increased local moisture availability, and provide insight into ecosystem response to a major orbitally driven climatic transition.

LanguageEnglish
Pages115-124
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume455
Early online date5 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

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New Zealand
Moisture
leaves
glaciation
Waxes
shift
Ice
Miocene
moisture
Isotopes
Ecosystems
Hydrogen
ecosystem response
Carbon
hydrogen isotope
Gases
Availability
wax
gas exchange
intervals

Cite this

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abstract = "A rise in atmospheric CO2 is believed to be necessary for the termination of large-scale glaciations. Although the Antarctic Ice Sheet is estimated to have melted from ∼125{\%} to ∼50{\%} its modern size, there is thus far no evidence for an increase in atmospheric CO2 associated with the Mi-1 glacial termination in the earliest Miocene. Here, we present evidence from a high-resolution terrestrial record of leaf physiological change in southern New Zealand for an abrupt increase in atmospheric CO2 coincident with the termination of the Mi-1 glaciation and lasting approximately 20 kyr. Quantitative pCO2 estimates, made using a leaf gas exchange model, suggest that atmospheric CO2 levels may have doubled during this period, from 516±111ppm to 1144±410ppm, and subsequently returned back to 425±53ppm. The 20-kyr interval with high pCO2 estimates is also associated with a period of increased moisture supply to southern New Zealand, inferred from carbon and hydrogen isotopes of terrestrial leaf waxes. The results provide the first high-resolution record of terrestrial environmental change at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary, document a ∼20 kyr interval of elevated pCO2 and increased local moisture availability, and provide insight into ecosystem response to a major orbitally driven climatic transition.",
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Abrupt plant physiological changes in southern New Zealand at the termination of the Mi-1 event reflect shifts in hydroclimate and pCO2. / Reichgelt, Tammo; D'Andrea, William J.; Fox, Bethany R.S.

In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 455, 01.12.2016, p. 115-124.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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