The degree to which ocean deoxygenation will alter the function of marine communities remains unclear but may be best constrained by detailed study of intervals of rapid warming in the geologic past. The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was an interval of rapid warming that was the result of increasing contents of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that had wide ranging effects on ecosystems globally. Here, we present stable nitrogen isotope data from the Eastern Peri-Tethys Ocean that record a significant transition in the nitrogen cycle. At the initiation of the PETM, the nitrogen isotopic composition of sediments decreased by ~6‰ to as low as −3.4‰, signaling reorganization of the marine nitrogen cycle. Warming, changes in ocean circulation, and deoxygenation caused a transition to nitrogen cycle to conditions that were most similar to those experienced during Oceanic Anoxic Events of the Mesozoic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)