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  1. Abstract

    The Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM; 56 Ma) is considered to be one of the best analogs for future climate change. The carbon isotope composition (δ13C) ofn‐alkanes derived from leaf waxes of terrestrial plants and marine algae can provide important insights into the carbon cycle perturbation during the PETM. Here, we present new organic geochemical data and compound‐specific δ13C data from sediments recovered from an early Cenozoic basin‐margin succession from Spitsbergen. These samples represent one of the most expanded PETM sites and provide new insights into the high Arctic response to the PETM. Our results reveal a synchronous ∼−6.5‰ carbon isotope excursion (CIE) in short‐chainn‐alkanes (nC19; marine algae/bacteria) with a ∼−5‰ CIE in long‐chainn‐alkanes (nC29andnC31; plant waxes) during the peak of the PETM. Although δ13Cn‐alkanesvalues were potentially affected via a modest thermal effect (1‰–2‰), the relative changes in the δ13Cn‐alkanesremain robust. A simple carbon cycle modeling suggests peak carbon emission rate could be ∼3 times faster than previously suggested using δ13CTOCrecords. The CIE magnitude of both δ13Cn‐C19and δ13Cn‐C29can be explained by the elevated influence of13C‐depleted respired CO2in the water column and increased water availability on land, elevatedpCO2in the atmosphere, and changes in vegetation type during the PETM. The synchronous decline in δ13C of both leaf waxes and marine algae/bacteria argues against a significant contribution to the sedimentary organic carbon pool from the weathering delivery of fossiln‐alkanes in the Arctic region.

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  2. Abstract

    The Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a transient greenhouse climate interval spurred by a large release of carbon to the ocean‐atmosphere approximately 56 million years ago, provides a geological point of comparison for potential effects of anthropogenic carbon emission. Geochemical proxies and fossil assemblages offer insight into the continental shelf response to the PETM, but global ocean‐atmosphere models cannot resolve shelf processes at sufficient resolution for model‐data comparisons. We present high‐resolution simulations of the pre‐PETM and PETM North Atlantic basin using the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), including a resolved continental shelf along the eastern margin of North America in the Salisbury Embayment. ROMS' high‐resolution, terrain‐following coordinate system permits greater vertical resolution and eddy resolution along continental margins while also capturing open‐ocean processes. We find that during the PETM, benthic oxygen concentration ([O2]) in the Salisbury Embayment decreases 18% to an average state of year‐round mild hypoxia, while average benthic calcite saturation (Ω) declines from 4.4 to 2.3. These benthic decreases are driven largely by enhanced benthic oxic respiration, which occurs despite no increase in shelf productivity. Instead, increased respiration stems from less vigorous off‐shelf transport of organic matter due to (a) weakened along‐shelf water currents and (b) weakened coastal upwelling that forces productivity closer to the shelf seafloor. Model results do not include riverine inputs, which would have further lowered benthic [O2] and Ω. Our data suggest lowered benthic calcite saturation and mild hypoxia as an upper bound on the oxygenation state of the Salisbury Embayment seafloor during the PETM.

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  3. Rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels through time have been crucial to enhanced habitability of surface Earth environments. Few redox proxies can track secular variations in dissolved oxygen concentrations ([O2]) around threshold levels for metazoan survival in the upper ocean. We present an extensive compilation of iodine to calcium ratios (I/Ca) in marine carbonates. Our record supports a major rise in atmospheric pO2 at ~400 million years ago (Ma), and reveals a step-change in the oxygenation of the upper ocean to relatively sustainable near-modern conditions at ~200 Ma. An Earth system model demonstrates that a shift in organic matter remineralization to greater depths, which may have been due to increasing size and biomineralization of eukaryotic plankton, likely drove the I/Ca signals at ~200 Ma 
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  4. Abstract

    A transect of paleoshelf cores from Maryland and New Jersey contains an ~0.19‐ to 1.61‐m‐thick interval with reduced percentages of carbonate during the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Outer paleoshelf cores are barren of nannofossils and correspond to two minor disconformities. Middle paleoshelf cores contain a mixture of samples devoid of nannofossils and those with rare specimens characterized by significant dissolution (i.e., etching). The magnitude of the decrease in carbonate cannot be explained by dilution by clastic material or dissolution resulting from the oxidation of organic matter during early diagenesis. The observed preservation pattern implies a shoaling of the calcite compensation depth and lysocline to the middle shelf. This reduced carbonate interval is observed during the onset of the PETM on other continental margins raising the possibility that extreme shoaling of the calcite compensation depth and lysocline was a global signal, which is more significant than in previous estimates for the PETM. An alternative scenario is that shoaling was restricted to the northwest Atlantic, enhanced by regional and local factors (eutrophication from rivers and microbial activity associated with warming) that exacerbated the impact of acidification on the shelf.

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