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Dying in the Sun: Direct evidence for elevated UV-B radiation at the end-Permian mass extinction

Liu, Feng; Peng, Huiping; Marshall, John E.A.; Lomax, Barry H.; Bomfleur, Benjamin; Kent, Matthew S.; Fraser, Wesley T.; Jardine, Phillip E.


Feng Liu

Huiping Peng

John E.A. Marshall

Barry H. Lomax

Benjamin Bomfleur

Wesley T. Fraser

Phillip E. Jardine


Land plants can adjust the concentration of protective ultraviolet B (UV-B)-absorbing compounds (UACs) in the outer wall of their reproductive propagules in response to ambient UV-B flux. To infer changes in UV-B radiation flux at Earth's surface during the end-Permian mass extinction, we analyze UAC abundances in ca. 800 pollen grains from an independently dated Permian-Triassic boundary section in Tibet. Our data reveal an excursion in UACs that coincide with a spike in mercury concentration and a negative carbon-isotope excursion in the latest Permian deposits, suggesting a close temporal link between large-scale volcanic eruptions, global carbon and mercury cycle perturbations, and ozone layer disruption. Because enhanced UV-B radiation can exacerbate the environmental deterioration induced by massive magmatism, ozone depletion is considered a compelling ecological driver for the terrestrial mass extinction.


Liu, F., Peng, H., Marshall, J. E., Lomax, B. H., Bomfleur, B., Kent, M. S., …Jardine, P. E. (2023). Dying in the Sun: Direct evidence for elevated UV-B radiation at the end-Permian mass extinction. Science Advances, 9(1), Article eabo6102.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 6, 2023
Publication Date Jan 6, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 9, 2023
Journal Science Advances
Electronic ISSN 2375-2548
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Article Number eabo6102
Public URL
Publisher URL


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