Scientists are studying the early Eocene period (around 55 to 48 million years ago) to figure out what the consequences of prolonged global warming would be in the long term. During the early Eocene period, the levels of CO2 were much higher than they are now and, as scientists have recently discovered, temperatures in Antarctica at the time ranged from 10C in winter to 25C in summer (50F to 77F).
The researchers, who have published their study in Nature, claim that this climate ‘supported the growth of highly diverse, near-tropical forests characterized by mesothermal to megathermal floral elements including palms and Bombacoideae.’ This may give us an idea of what will happen if CO2 emissions continue to increase.
‘It’s a clearer picture we get of warm analogues through geological time,’ says James Bendle, co-author of the study and researcher at University of Glasgow. ‘The more we get that information, the more it seems that the models we’re using now are not overestimating the change over the next few centuries, and they may be underestimating it. That’s the essential message.’
Source: BBC News
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Jörg Pross, Lineth Contreras, Peter K. Bijl, David R. Greenwood, Steven M. Bohaty, Stefan Schouten, James A. Bendle, Ursula Röhl, Lisa Tauxe, J. Ian Raine, Claire E. Huck, Tina van de Flierdt, Stewart S. R. Jamieson, Catherine E. Stickley, Bas van de Schootbrugge, Carlota Escutia, Henk Brinkhuis, & Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 318 Scientists (2012). Persistent near-tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature11300