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Snowball Earth climate dynamics and Cryogenian geology–geobiology

Hoffman, P. F., Abbot, D. S., Ashkenazy, Y., Benn, D. I., Brocks, J. J., Cohen, P. A., Cox, G. M., Creveling, J. R., Donnadieu, Y., Erwin, D. H., Fairchild, I. J., Ferreira, D., Goodman, J. C., Halverson, G. P., Jansen, M. F., Le Hir, G., Love, G. D., Macdonald, F. A., Maloof, A. C., Partin, C. A. , Ramstein, G., Rose, B. E. J., Rose, C. V., Sadler, P. M., Tziperman, E., Voigt, A. and Warren, S. G. (2017) Snowball Earth climate dynamics and Cryogenian geology–geobiology. Science Advances, 3 (11). e1600983. ISSN 2375-2548

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600983

Abstract/Summary

Geological evidence indicates that grounded ice sheets reached sea level at all latitudes during the long‐lived Sturtian (717–659 Ma) and Marinoan (ca 645–635 Ma) glaciations. Combined U-­‐Pb and Re-­‐Os geochronology suggests that the Sturtian glacial onset and both terminations were globally synchronous. Geochemical data imply that atmospheric pCO2 was 102x modern at the Marinoan termination, consistent with Snowball Earth hysteresis. Sturtian glaciation followed the breakup of a tropical supercontinent, and its onset coincided with the equatorial emplacement of a large igneous province. Modeling shows that the small thermal inertia of a globally frozen surface reverses the annual-mean Hadley circulation, resulting in equatorial net sublimation and net deposition elsewhere. Oceanic ice thickens, forming a sea glacier that flows gravitationally toward the equator, sustained by the hydrologic cycle and by basal freeze-on and melting. Tropical ice sheets flow faster as CO2 rises, but lose mass and become sensitive to orbital forcing. Dust accumulation in the equatorial zone engenders supraglacial oligotrophic meltwater ecosystems, favorable for cyanobacteria and many eukaryotes. Meltwater flushing through moulins enables organic burial and submarine deposition of subaerially-­‐erupted volcanic ash. The subglacial ocean is turbulent and well­‐mixed, in response to geothermal heating and conductive heat loss through the ice cover, increasing with latitude. Cap carbonates, unique to Snowball Earth terminations, are products of intense weathering and ocean stratification. Whole-­ocean warming and ice-sheet forebulge collapse allow marine coastal inundations to progress long after ice-sheet disappearance. The evolutionary legacy of Snowball Earth is perceptible in fossils and living organisms.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:72249
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science

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