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Hyperthermals – rapid and extreme global warming in our geological past

Discussion meeting


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Gavin Foster, Professor Jim Zachos, Professor Dan Lunt, Professor Richard Alley ForMem RS and Professor Wally Broecker ForMemRS. 

An erupting volcano, one of the potential causes of past hyperthermals (Copyright H. Svenson)

Earth’s history is peppered with rapid and extreme global warming events collectively known as hyperthermals. Although none were as rapid as human-induced climate change, most are associated with major extinction events and were invariably caused by the injection of huge volumes of carbon into the ancient atmosphere. In this meeting we explore what we can learn about our possible future from these dramatic ancient events.

The schedule of talks and speaker biographies will be available shortly. A draft programme is available to download.

Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the meeting has taken place. Meeting papers will be published in a future issue of Philosophical Transactions A.

Call for posters - deadline Monday 3 July 2017

There will be a poster session at 17:00 on Monday 25 September 2017. If you would like to apply to present a poster please submit your proposed title, abstract (not more than 200 words and in the third person), author list, name of proposed presenter and institution to the Scientific Programmes team no later than Monday 3 July 2017. Please include the text 'Poster abstract submission' in the email subject line. Please note that places are limited and posters are selected at the scientific organiser's discretion. Poster abstracts will only be considered if the presenter is registered to attend the meeting.

Attending the event

This meeting is intended for researchers in relevant fields.

  • Free to attend
  • Limited places, advanced registration is essential
  • An optional lunch can be purchased during registration

An evening poster session and drinks reception will be held following the close of the meeting on Monday 25 September 2017. Whilst the posters are free to view for all registered participants, the corresponding optional drinks reception is ticketed. Drinks reception tickets can be purchased in advance during registration.

This meeting will be followed by a related satellite meeting (The causes, consequences and relevance of hyperthermals) to be held at the Royal Society at Chicheley Hall on 27 - 28 September 2017. 

Enquires: Contact the Scientific Programmes team.

Schedule of talks

25 September


Reconstructions of past hyperthermals

4 talks Show detail Hide detail


Professor James C. Zachos, University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), USA

10:00-10:10 Welcome by the Royal Society & Lead Organiser

10:10-10:40 Hot: reconstructions of temperature change during the PETM

Dr Appy Sluijs, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Show speakers

10:40-10:50 Discussion

10:50-11:20 Sour: Houthouse climates and ocean acidification

Dr Tali Babila , University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

Show speakers

11:20-11:30 Discussion

11:30-12:00 Coffee

12:00-12:30 Ocean anoxia during hothouse events

Professor Hugh Jenkyns, University of Oxford, UK

Show speakers

12:30-12:40 Discussion




Life in the Hothouse

5 talks Show detail Hide detail


Professor Dan Lunt, University of Bristol, UK

13:30-14:00 Consequences of the PETM for life in the ocean

Dr Ellen Thomas, Yale and Wesleyan Universities, USA

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14:00-14:10 Discussion

14:10-14:40 Mechanisms driving biotic change

Dr Samantha Gibbs, University of Southampton, UK

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14:40-14:50 Discussion

14:50-15:20 Tea

15:20-15:50 The impact of shock heating on life on land during the Permian-Triassic extinction event

Professor Mike Benton FRS, University of Bristol, UK

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15:50-16:00 Discussion

16:00-16:30 Rapid climate change and the open ocean

Professor Pincelli Hull, Yale University, USA

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16:30-16:40 Discussion

16:40-17:00 Summary discussion


Poster session

26 September


The role of triggers and feedbacks

5 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Gavin Foster, University of Southampton, UK

09:00-09:30 Drivers of the end-Permian hyperthermal

Professor Lee Kump, Pennsylvania State University, USA

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09:30-09:40 Discussion

09:40-10:10 Orbital forcing of hyperthermals

Professor Lucas Lourens, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

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10:10-10:20 Discussion

10:20-10:40 Coffee

10:40-11:10 Volcanic causes for past hothouse climates

Dr Henrik H. Svensen, Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED), University of Oslo, Norway

Show speakers

11:10-11:20 Discussion

11:20-11:50 The role of impacts in triggering hyperthermals

Professor Morgan Schaller, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA

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11:50-12:00 Discussion

12:00-12:30 Constraining the rate of PETM onset

Professor Sandra Kirtland Turner, University of California, Riverside, USA

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12:30-12:40 Discussion




Our future hyperthermal?

3 talks Show detail Hide detail


Professor Richard Pancost, University of Bristol, UK

13:30-14:00 Quantifying feedbacks in an Earth System model

Professor Andy Ridgwell, University of Bristol, UK

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14:00-14:15 Discussion

14:15-14:45 Carbon cycle feedbacks in our warm future

Professor Richard Zeebe, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

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14:45-15:00 Discussion

15:00-15:30 Tea

15:30-16:00 Improving models with constraints from past super greenhouse worlds

Dr Jeffrey Kiehl, National Center for Atmospheric, USA

Show speakers

16:00-16:15 Discussion

Hyperthermals – rapid and extreme global warming in our geological past The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK