APPLICATION OF THE VIRTUAL CHRONOS NETWORK TO MESOZOIC / CENOZOIC PALEOCEANOGRAPHY AND PALEOCLIMATOLOGY
To realize the potential of the CHRONOS platform, a wide range of data are needed. Integrated databases on stratigraphy, paleogeography, land albedo, ice sheets, sea-surface temperatures, continental temperatures, greenhouse gas levels, thermohaline circulation, and biotic evolution will support a new generation of comprehensive studies of Earth System History. To this end, a CHRONOS workshop on Mesozoic / Cenozoic paleoceanography and paleoclimatology was held on October 27-28 at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg (see http://www.chronos.org/meetings/workshops.html) . Along with database and tool development, a series of time-slice studies will serve as test-beds for the CHRONOS platform. One of the intervals targeted is the mid-Miocene climate transition ca. 17-13 million years ago. This was a particularly dynamic interval of time that included the Neogene climate optimum closely followed by a major increase in Antarctic glaciation. A central unanswered question is: What caused the transition from the warmest interval of the past ca. 35 million years to the late Neogene glacial world in less than 2 million years? The time-slice approach adopted for the last glacial maximum (CLIMAP Project Members, 1976, The surface of the ice-age earth, Science, 191:1131-1137) will serve as an initial investigative model. The CHRONOS system will provide the scientific community with state-of-the art databases, analytical and visualization tools, and key partnerships, thereby fully capitalizing on the Geoinformatics revolution.