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Global climate stabilisation by chemical weathering during the Hirnantian glaciation

Pogge von Strandmann, P.; Desrochers, A.; Murphy, M.J.; Finlay, A.J.; Selby, D.; Lenton, T.M.

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P. Pogge von Strandmann

A. Desrochers

M.J. Murphy

A.J. Finlay

D. Selby

T.M. Lenton


Chemical weathering of silicate rocks is a primary drawdown mechanism of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The processes that affect weathering are therefore central in controlling global climate. A temperature-controlled “weathering thermostat” has long been proposed in stabilising long-term climate, but without definitive evidence from the geologic record. Here we use lithium isotopes (δ7Li) to assess the impact of silicate weathering across a significant climate-cooling period, the end-Ordovician Hirnantian glaciation (~445 Ma). We find a positive δ7Li excursion, suggestive of a silicate weathering decline. Using a coupled lithium-carbon model, we show that initiation of the glaciation was likely caused by declining CO2 degassing, which triggered abrupt global cooling, and much lower weathering rates. This lower CO2 drawdown during the glaciation allowed climatic recovery and deglaciation. Combined, the data and model provide support from the geological record for the operation of the weathering thermostat.


Pogge von Strandmann, P., Desrochers, A., Murphy, M., Finlay, A., Selby, D., & Lenton, T. (2017). Global climate stabilisation by chemical weathering during the Hirnantian glaciation. Geochemical perspectives letters, 3(2), 230-237.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 15, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 15, 2017
Publication Date Jun 15, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 7, 2017
Journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters
Print ISSN 2410-339X
Electronic ISSN 2410-3403
Publisher European Association of Geochemistry (EAG)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages 230-237


Accepted Journal Article (1.9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Additional information is available at http://www.<br />

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