# How Warm Was the Paleocene?

It's been said that 55 million years ago, a massive carbon surge raised global temperatures by five to eight degrees (or, in a more preferable translation, nine to 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit). This catastrophe was known by scientists as "The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum", or PETM. It showed how warm the Eocene was before the opening of the Drake Passage which left Antarctica to be iced, yet it never mentioned what the weather or climate was like BEFORE the PETM.

So the simple question is: How warm was the Paleocene epoch?

• Please provide references to your claim that "it's been said...". Who said it? – arkaia Sep 15 '16 at 14:54
• Same for "never mentioned". The stuff I read (things like Geoscientist articles) have talked about no ice caps before the PETM, but during the PETM tropical plants growing in the polar regions. – winwaed Sep 16 '16 at 13:14

This is a plot of the Cenozoic variations of $\delta\ce{^{18}O}_{Cibicidoides}$ according to Zachos et al. 2001 (this is a bit outdated now but the Paleocene is roughly the same in more modern curves such as Zachos et al. 2008 or Cramer et al. 2011). It is supposed to follow variations in deep ocean temperatures and thus reflect the climate state at a given time. The Paleocene is the timeframe delimited by the two vertical bars (you can see the PETM quite clearly on one of the two bars).