An expedition to the Artic Ocean in 2004 by a team of scientists aboard a fleet of icebreakers collected samples by drilling into the floor of the ocean. The project was part of an international research effort, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, which explores the Earth's history and structure as recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks.
"Remains of ancient plant and animal life found in cylindrical core samples from the ocean floor have given us critical new information about the history of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding region," said Mark Pagani, assistant professor of geology and geophysics at Yale and a co-author on the study.
During the warmest time interval, the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), sea surface temperatures at the North Pole reached as high as 23 C, or around 73 F, as determined by a novel technique the authors used to estimate temperature. Today's mean annual temperature is around -20C, or minus-4F.
"This project was a technological feat, and all of the findings in these papers are especially new and exciting given the fact that nobody's ever taken core samples like this before from the floor of the Arctic Ocean," said Matthew Huber, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences in Purdue University's College of Science. "As a climate modeler, gaining access to this data is a once in a lifetime opportunity"
"We discovered the remains of tiny algae called dinoflagellates, belonging to the species Apectodinium, which previously had been restricted to warmer regions of the world," said co-author Henk Brinkhuis, a marine palynologist and biogeologist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "The presence of Apectodinium d
Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel