Effects of paleogeographic changes and CO2 variability on northern mid-latitudinal temperature gradients in the Cretaceous

Kaushal Gianchandani*, Sagi Maor, Ori Adam, Alexander Farnsworth, Hezi Gildor, Daniel J. Lunt, Nathan Paldor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Cretaceous ‘greenhouse’ period (~145 to ~66 million years ago, Ma) in Earth’s history is relatively well documented by multiple paleoproxy records, which indicate that the meridional sea surface temperature (SST) gradient increased (non-monotonically) from the Valanginian (~135 Ma) to the Maastrichtian (~68 Ma). Changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration, solar constant, and paleogeography are the primary drivers of variations in the spatiotemporal distribution of SST. However, the particular contribution of each of these drivers (and their underlying mechanisms) to changes in the SST distribution remains poorly understood. Here we use data from a suite of paleoclimate simulations to compare the relative effects of atmospheric CO2 variability and paleogeographic changes on mid-latitudinal SST gradient through the Cretaceous. Further, we use a fundamental model of wind-driven ocean gyres to quantify how changes in the Northern Hemisphere paleogeography weaken the circulation in subtropical ocean gyres, leading to an increase in extratropical SSTs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number5193
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K.G. and H.G. were supported by the Joint National Natural Science Foundation of China–Israel Science Foundation (research grant number 2547/17) and by the U.S.–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF grant number 2018152). D.J.L. and A.F. acknowledge Leverhulme grant RPG-2019-365; D.J.L. acknowledges NERC grant NE/X000222/1; A.F. acknowledges the Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists grant 2021FSE0001.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Springer Nature Limited.


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