Humidity estimate for the middle Eocene Arctic rain forest

A. Hope Jahren, Leonel Silveira Lobo Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The exquisite preservation of fossilized Metasequoia trees that grew near 80°N latitude during the middle Eocene (ca. 45 Ma) in Nunavut, Canada, allowed for δD and δ18O analyses of cellulose, techniques previously restricted to wood <30,000 yr old. From the isotopic results, we determined that the middle Eocene Arctic atmosphere contained ∼2x the water found in the region's atmosphere today. This water vapor contributed to a middle Eocene greenhouse effect that insulated the polar region during dark polar winters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-466
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Arctic
  • Cellulose
  • Eocene
  • Humidity
  • Metasequoia
  • Stable isotope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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