A new study has found that Antarctica may be an uninhabitable frozen place, but it may have been home to a thriving rainforest 90 million years ago,media reported. A new study will rewrite assumptions about the polar region and raise new questions about how the Earth’s climate can change so dramatically.
Ninety million years ago, it fell just in the middle of the Cretaceous period, when the dinosaurs were alive on Earth, and that period was considered to be the warmest on Earth. What is not clear, however, is how this warmth manifests itself. Earth scientists at the Alfred Wegner Institute (AWI) of the Helmholtz Polar and Ocean Research Center in Germany have conducted a new study exploring sediment cores collected from the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica. Deep in it, they found plant pollen, spores and even dense networks of tree roots.
Dr Johann Klages, a geologist at AWD and lead author of the study, said: “During the initial ship-to-ship assessment, the unusual color of the sediment layer quickly caught our attention; it was clearly different from the rock formations above. In addition, initial analysis suggests that at a depth of 27 to 30 meters on the sea floor, we have found a layer that was originally formed on land rather than in the ocean. “
The undersea drilling tower MARUM-MeBo70, located near the Pine Island glacier, collected these cores from the University of Bremen. When X-ray computed tomography (CT) was performed, it was found to be connected to the roots and knotted with silt through fine clay. In addition, scientists have found pollen and spores from a variety of tube plants.
One of the challenges in explaining these findings, however, is how the region can remain relatively warm in the face of a four-month polar night. Model simulations show that for the climate to reach a temperature suitable for rainforest survival, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have to be significantly increased — by 2019, the peak of carbon dioxide will be just under 415 ppm, compared with 1680 ppm if the average temperature in Antarctica is to reach 90 million years ago.
“We now know that the Cretaceous period is likely to be free of sunlight for four months,” explains study co-author Dr. Torsten Bickert, a geoscientist at the Marum Research Center at the University of Bremen. “
It is not clear exactly what caused the land to lower the temperature and turn it into a polar ice sheet.