Abstract

The thermodynamic meteorologic model of J. Adem is used to trace the evolution of climate from Triassic to present time by applying it to changing geography as described by continental drift and polar wandering. Results show that the gross changes of climate in the Northern Hemisphere can be fully explained by the strong cooling in high latitudes as continents moved poleward. High-latitude mean temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere dropped below the freezing point 10 to 15 m.y. ago, thereby accounting for the late Cenozoic glacial age. Computed meridional temperature gradients for the Northern Hemisphere steepened from 20° to 40°C over the 200-m.y. period, an effect caused primarily by the high-latitude temperature decrease. The primary result of the work is that the cooling that has occurred since the warm Mesozoic period and has culminated in glaciation is explainable wholly by terrestrial processes. However, comparison of computed Mesozoic temperatures for North America with observed conditions shows that more polar wander is required than is included in the geography reconstructed primarily on the basis of continental drift.

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