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  1. Abstract

    The Eocene‐Oligocene transition (EOT) marks the shift from greenhouse to icehouse conditions at 34 Ma, when a permanent ice sheet developed on Antarctica. Climate modeling studies have recently assessed the drivers of the transition globally. Here we revisit those experiments for a detailed study of the southern high latitudes in comparison to the growing number of mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) and mean air temperature (MAT) proxy reconstructions, allowing us to assess proxy‐model temperature agreement and refine estimates for the magnitude of thepCO2forcing of the EOT. We compile and update published proxy temperature records on and around Antarctica for the late Eocene (38–34 Ma) and early Oligocene (34–30 Ma). Compiled SST proxies cool by up to 3°C and MAT by up to 4°C between the timeslices. Proxy data were compared to previous climate model simulations representing pre‐ and post‐EOT, typically forced with a halving ofpCO2. We scaled the model outputs to identify the magnitude ofpCO2change needed to drive a commensurate change in temperature to best fit the temperature proxies. The multi‐model ensemble needs a 30 or 33% decrease inpCO2, to best fit MAT or SST proxies respectively. These proxy‐model intercomparisons identify decliningpCO2as the primary forcing of EOT cooling, with a magnitude (200 or 243 ppmv) approaching that of thepCO2proxies (150 ppmv). However individual model estimates span a decrease of 66–375 ppmv, thus proxy‐model uncertainties are dominated by model divergence.

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  3. Abstract

    Terrestrial climate records for Antarctica, beyond the age limit of ice cores, are restricted to the few unglaciated areas with exposed rock outcrops. Marine sediments on Antarctica's continental shelves contain records of past oceanic and terrestrial environments that can provide important insights into Antarctic climate evolution. The SHALDRIL II (Shallow Drilling on the Antarctic Continental Margin) expedition recovered sedimentary sequences from the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula of late Eocene, Oligocene, middle Miocene, and early Pliocene age that provides insights into Cenozoic Antarctic climate and ice sheet development. Here, we use biomarker data to assess atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and glacial reworking from the late Eocene to the early Pliocene. Analyses of hopanes andn‐alkanes indicate increased erosion of mature (thermally altered) soil biomarker components reworked by glacial erosion. Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers from soil bacteria suggest similar air temperatures of 12°C ± 1°C (1σ,n = 46) for months above freezing for Eocene, Oligocene, and Miocene timeslices but much colder (and likely shorter) periods of thaw during the Pliocene (5°C ± 1°C,n = 4) on the Antarctic Peninsula. TEX86‐based (Tetraether index of 86 carbons) sea surface temperature estimates indicate ocean cooling from 7°C ± 3°C (n = 10) in the Miocene to 3°C ± 1°C (n = 3) in the Pliocene, consistent with deep ocean cooling. Resulting temperature records provide useful constraints for ice sheet and climate model simulations seeking to improve understanding of ice sheet response under a range of climate conditions.

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  4. Abstract

    The Eocene‐Oligocene transition (EOT) marks the onset of Antarctic glaciation at 33.7 Ma. Although the benthic oxygen isotope record defines the major continental ice sheet expansion, recent sedimentary and geochemical evidence suggests the presence of earlier ephemeral ice sheets. Sediment cores from Ocean Drilling Program Legs 119 and 188 in Prydz Bay provide an archive of conditions in a major drainage system of East Antarctica. We study biomarker and microfossil evidence to discern how the vegetation and climate shifted between 36 and 33 Ma. Pollen was dominated by reworked Permian Glossopterid gymnosperms; however, penecontemporaneous Eocene pollen assemblages indicate that some vegetation survived the glacial advances. At the EOT, brGDGT soil biomarkers indicate abrupt cooling from 13°C to 8°C and soil pH increases from 6.0 to 6.7, suggesting drying which is further supported by plant wax hydrogen and carbon isotopic shifts of 20‰ and 1.1‰, respectively, and evidence for drying from weathering proxies. Although the terrestrial soil biomarker influx mostly precludes the use of TEX86, we find sea surface temperatures of 12°C in the late Eocene cooling to 8°C at the EOT. Marine productivity undergoes a sustained increase after the glacial advance, likely promoted by enhanced ocean circulation. Between the two glacial surge events of the Priabonian Oxygen Maximum at 37.3 Ma and the EOT at 33.7 Ma, we observe warming of 2–5°C at 35.7 and 34.7 Ma, with increase in penecontemporaneous pollen and enhanced marine productivity, capturing the last flickers of Antarctic warmth.

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