The late Paleozoic icehouse was the longest-lived ice age of the Phanerozoic, and its demise constitutes the only recorded turnover to a greenhouse state. This review summarizes evidence for the timing, extent, and behavior of continental ice on Pangea in addition to the climate and ecosystem response to repeated transitions between glacial and interglacial conditions. Combined empirical and climate modeling studies argue for a dynamic ice age characterized by discrete periods of glaciation separated by periods of ice contraction during intermittent warmings, moderate-size ice sheets emanating from multiple ice centers throughout southern Gondwana, possible glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere, and atmospheric CO as a primary driver of both ice sheet and climate variability. The glacioeustatic response to fluctuations of these smaller ice sheets was likely less extreme than previously suggested. Modeling studies, stratigraphic relationships, and changes in both the geographic patterns and community compositions of marine fauna and terrestrial flora indicate the potential for strong responses to high-latitude glacial conditions in both ocean circulation and low-latitude climate. The forcings and feedbacks of these linkages, as well as existing climate paradoxes, define research targets for future studies of the late Paleozoic.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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