A summertime rainy season in the Arctic forests of the Eocene

Brian A. Schubert, A. Hope Jahren, Jaelyn J. Eberle, Leonel S.L. Sternberg, David A. Eberth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The discovery of exceptionally well-preserved fossil wood revealed that extensive forests existed north of the Arctic Circle during the Eocene (ca. 45-55 Ma). Subsequent paleobotanical studies led researchers to suggest eastern Asia as a modern analog, based on the distribution of nearest living relatives. During the last decade, proxybased reconstructions of mean annual paleoprecipitation, productivity, and relative humidity have led workers to characterize the climate of the Arctic forests as similar to today's temperate forests of the Pacifi c Northwest. Using a new model, we reconstructed the seasonal timing of paleoprecipitation from high-resolution intra-ring carbon isotope measurements of fossil wood. We showed that the Eocene Arctic forests experienced, on average, 3.1 times more precipitation during summer than winter, entirely dissimilar to the Pacifi c Northwest where summer precipitation is only one-half to one-sixth of the winter precipitation. This new result shows that although mean annual climate conditions may have been similar to the mean annual conditions the Pacifi c Northwest, consideration of seasonality implies that the temperate forests of eastern Asia represent the best overall modern analog for the Eocene Arctic forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-526
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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