What Happened to the Hadley Cell during the Eocene? Implications for Latitudinal Vegetation Gradients under Global Warming

Authors: Mark Blumler*, SUNY-Binghamton
Topics: Biogeography, Climatology and Meteorology, Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: global warming, paleoclimate, biomes
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Plant communities are likely to change composition as well as location under the impact of global warming. Certainly this has happened in the past. Today, the latitudinal gradient from the tropics to the poles features strong banding of vegetation types, clearly related to the general circulation of the atmosphere. For example, subtropical deserts are prominent and known to be caused by subsidence in the Hadley Cell, producing the Subtropical High pressure system. On either side of these deserts vegetation grades into semi-arid types associated with seasonally dry climates. And so on. In contrast, under the greenhouse conditions of the Eocene, forests grew in the subtropics and indeed almost everywhere. The apparent absence of a Hadley Cell and its subsidence zone is a puzzle, never satisfactorily explained. In this paper I outline an explanation, and on that basis predict some future vegetation changes that might be expected if global warming continues unabated.

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