Abstract

Sea-surface temperature (SST) estimates of ~30 °C from planktic foraminifera and archaeal membrane lipids in bathyal sediments in the Canterbury Basin, New Zealand, support paleontological evidence for a warm subtropical to tropical climate in the early Eocene high-latitude (55°S) southwest Pacific. Such warm SSTs call into question previous estimates based on oxygen isotopes and present a major challenge to climate modelers. Even under hypergreenhouse conditions (2240 ppm CO2), modeled summer SSTs for the New Zealand region do not exceed 20 °C.

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