Early Paleozoic

The characteristics of Early Paleozoic climates, when complex forms of Life diversified


Earth’s environmental conditions during the Early Phanerozoic (Cambrian and Ordovician, ca. 540–485 million years ago) remain difficult to constrain. Yet, they constituted the physical background that hosted the diversification of most marine animal groups that we know today, during the Cambrian Explosion and subsequent Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. We couple geochemical data and numerical climate models to better understand what our planet looked like at that critical period of biological change, including climate and the position of the continents.

Simulated early Cambrian sea-surface temperatures. Climate was simulated using the FOAM ocean-atmosphere general circulation model and simulations were ground-truthed using new d18O measurements. After Hearing et al., 2018.

Selected references

  • Wong Hearing, T.W., Pohl, A., Williams, M., Donnadieu, Y., Harvey, T.H.P., Scotese, C.R., Sepulchre, P., Franc, A., and Vandenbroucke, T.R.A., 2021, Quantitative comparison of geological data and model simulations constrains early Cambrian geography and climate: Nature Communications, v. 12, p. 3868, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-24141-5. [link]

  • Hearing, T. W., Harvey, T.H.P., Williams, M., Leng, M.J., Lamb, A.L., Wilby, P.R., Gabbott, S.R., Pohl, A., Donnadieu, Y., 2018. An early Cambrian greenhouse climate. Science Advances 4(5), eaar5690. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aar5690. [link]

  • Pohl, A., Donnadieu Y., Le Hir G., Ferreira D., 2017. The climatic significance of Late Ordovician–early Silurian black shales. Paleoceanography 32(4), 397-423. doi:10.1002/2016PA003064. [link]

  • Pohl, A., Donnadieu, Y., Le Hir, G., Ladant, J.B., Dumas, C., Alvarez-Solas, J., Vandenbroucke, T.R.A., 2016. Glacial onset predated Late Ordovician climate cooling. Paleoceanography 31, 800–821. doi:10.1002/(ISSN)1944-9186. [link]

  • Porada, P., Lenton, T.M., Pohl, A., Weber, B., Mander, L., Donnadieu, Y., Beer, C., Pöschl, U., Kleidon, A., 2016. High potential for weathering and climate effects of non-vascular vegetation in the Late Ordovician. Nature Communications 7, 12113. doi:10.1038/ncomms12113. [link]

  • Pohl, A., Donnadieu, Y., Le Hir, G., Buoncristiani, J.F., Vennin, E., 2014. Effect of the Ordovician paleogeography on the (in)stability of the climate. Climate of the Past 10, 2053–2066. doi:10.5194/cp-10-2053-2014. [link]