Uneven spatial sampling distorts reconstructions of Phanerozoic seawater temperature

Jones LA, Eichenseer K (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


Book Volume: 50

Pages Range: 238-242

Journal Issue: 2

DOI: 10.1130/G49132.1


Paleotemperature proxy records are widely used to reconstruct the global climate throughout the Phanerozoic and to test macroevolutionary hypotheses. However, the spatial distribution of these records varies through time. This is problematic because heat is unevenly distributed across Earth's surface. Consequently, heterogeneous spatial sampling of proxy data has the potential to bias reconstructed temperature curves. We evaluated the spatiotemporal evolution of sampling using a compilation of Phanerozoic delta O-18 data. We tested the influence of variable spatial coverage on global estimates of paleotemperature by sampling a steep "modern-type" latitudinal temperature gradient and a flattened "Eocene-type" gradient, based on the spatial distribution of delta O-18 samples. We show that global paleotemperature is overestimated in similar to 70% of Phanerozoic stages. Perceived climatic trends for some intervals might be artifactually induced by shifts in paleolatitudinal sampling, with equatorward shifts in sampling concurring with warming trends, and poleward shifts concurring with cooling trends. Yet, the magnitude of some climatic perturbations might also be underestimated. For example, the observed Ordovician cooling trend may be underestimated due to an equatorward shift in sampling. Our findings suggest that while proxy records are vital for reconstructing Earth's paleotemperature in deep time, consideration of the spatial nature of these data is crucial to improving these reconstructions.

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Jones, L.A., & Eichenseer, K. (2022). Uneven spatial sampling distorts reconstructions of Phanerozoic seawater temperature. Geology, 50(2), 238-242. https://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G49132.1


Jones, Lewis A., and Kilian Eichenseer. "Uneven spatial sampling distorts reconstructions of Phanerozoic seawater temperature." Geology 50.2 (2022): 238-242.

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