High potential for weathering and climate effects of non-vascular vegetation in the Late Ordovician
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It has been hypothesized that predecessors of today's bryophytes significantly increased global chemical weathering in the Late Ordovician, thus reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration and contributing to climate cooling and an interval of glaciations. Studies that try to quantify the enhancement of weathering by non-vascular vegetation, however, are usually limited to small areas and low numbers of species, which hampers extrapolating to the global scale and to past climatic conditions. Here we present a spatially explicit modelling approach to simulate global weathering by non-vascular vegetation in the Late Ordovician. We estimate a potential global weathering flux of 2.8 (km(3) rock) yr(-1), defined here as volume of primary minerals affected by chemical transformation. This is around three times larger than today's global chemical weathering flux. Moreover, we find that simulated weathering is highly sensitive to atmospheric CO2 concentration. This implies a strong negative feedback between weathering by non-vascular vegetation and Ordovician climate.
The Bolin Centre for Climate Research is thanked for financial support. The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry provided computational resources and the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement provided data resources. P.P. acknowledges funding from the European Union FP7-ENV project PAGE21 under contract number GA282700. T.M.L. was supported by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2013-106) and by a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. A.P. and Y.D. thank the CEA/CCRT for providing access to the HPC resources of TGCC under the allocation 2015012212 made by GENCI. B.W. gratefully acknowledges support by the Max Planck Society (Nobel Laureate Fellowship) and the German Research Foundation (project WE2393/2). The authors thank four anonymous reviewers for their thorough and helpful comments.
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Vol. 7, article 12113
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