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Snowball cooling after algal rise

The Earth underwent two snowball glaciation events between 720 and 635 million years ago. The preceding expansion of eukaryotic algae and a consequent rise in emissions of organic cloud condensation nuclei may have contributed to the dramatic cooling.

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Figure 1: Evolution of eukaryotes and DMSP biosynthesis.
Figure 2: Temperatures before and after the increase in cloud condensation nuclei around 800 Ma.


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We thank Z.-X. Li for providing the palaeocontinental reconstructions, S. Petri for preparing input data, M. Richter for help with bioinformatics, J.-B. Raina for insight into DMSP biosynthesis and E. Bauer, A. Eliseev, W. Lucht and A. Weiner for discussions. We thank T. Lenton and A. Voigt for suggestions that improved the manuscript.

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C.H. and G.F. designed the research; G.F. and H.K. carried out the climate simulations; C.H. analysed DMSP biosynthesis; and G.F. and C.H. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Georg Feulner or Christian Hallmann.

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Feulner, G., Hallmann, C. & Kienert, H. Snowball cooling after algal rise. Nature Geosci 8, 659–662 (2015).

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