Antarctica once boasted warm, swampy rainforests: Researchers


spaminator
+1
#1  Top Rated Post
Antarctica once boasted warm, swampy rainforests: Researchers
Reuters
Published:
April 1, 2020
Updated:
April 1, 2020 5:31 PM EDT
A glacier is seen in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, February 18, 2018. (REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo)
WASHINGTON — Antarctica is now a harsh land of ice and snow, but has not always been that way.
Earth’s southernmost continent long ago was home to temperate, swampy rainforests teeming with life, scientists said on Wednesday based on pristinely preserved forest soil they retrieved by drilling under the seafloor off Antarctica’s coast.
The sediment core obtained by scientists working aboard the research icebreaker RV Polarstern in the Amundsen Sea near the Pine Island Glacier dated to about 90 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period when dinosaurs were the dominant land animals.
The researchers estimated based on the soil content that this location, 560 miles (900 km) from the South Pole, experienced average annual temperatures of about 53-55 degrees Fahrenheit (12-13 Celsius) and average temperatures during the warmest summer months of about 68-77 Fahrenheit (20-25 Celsius).
RV Polarstern research icebreaker is pictured in Tromso, Norway, September 20, 2019. (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo)
That is exceptionally warm for a location near the South Pole, where the average annual temperature now is around minus 40 Fahrenheit (minus 40 Celsius).
A modern temperature analog may be New York City, according to marine geologist Johann Klages of the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.
This week on the Nature cover: Polar opposite. Evidence for a temperate rainforest near the South Pole 90 million years ago. Browse the issue here: http://t.co/vNBvWAHRvH pic.twitter.com/M9s6T1LTkF
— Nature (@nature) April 1, 2020
The dark-brownish gray soil was composed of fine-grained silt and clay bearing remains of fossil roots in a dense network, pollen and spores spanning 65 types of plants, with individual cell structures clearly visible.
“If you would go to a forest near you and drill a hole, it would probably look pretty similar,” Klages said.
Klages said the plants included conifers, ferns and flowering plants. While they did not find any animal remains, Klages said there likely were dinosaurs, flying reptiles called pterosaurs and many insects. Dinosaur fossils from Antarctica have been known for years.
The soil came from nearly 90 feet (27 metres) beneath the seafloor under ocean depths of about 3,300 feet (1,000 metres). It was obtained using a seafloor drill rig.
The research underscores the dramatic climate changes Earth has undergone in the past – and is currently undergoing today.
The soil core sample dated from 93-83 million years ago, Klages said. This dates from the planet’s warmest period of the past 140 million years, with sea levels about 560 feet (170 metres) higher than today.
The rainforest environment is all the more remarkable, the researchers said, considering that the region annually experiences a four-month polar night when there is no sunlight to nurture plant life. Klages said no ice sheets were present at the time though seasonal snow fall was likely.

http://twitter.com/i/videos/tweet/1245378188982792192
http://nature.com/nature/volumes/580/issues/7801
http://torontosun.com/news/world/ant...ts-researchers
 
Twin_Moose
#2
If the wetlands and boreal forests still existed in the South and North poles what would that do to capture Carbon for the rest of the world? H'mmm
 
Avro52
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Twin_Moose View Post

If the wetlands and boreal forests still existed in the South and North poles what would that do to capture Carbon for the rest of the world? H'mmm

We will find out as the methane is released.
 

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