Environmental Science

Ancient Soil Suggests Antarctica May Have Been a Rainforest 90 Million Years Ago

Ancient Soil Suggests Antarctica May Have Been a Rainforest 90 Million Years Ago

Antarctica was once home to warm, waterlogged ecosystems surrounded by ferns and Saturday trees 90 million years ago. Analysis of ancient soils obtained from the western part of Antarctica shows that the ice continent once matched modern New Zealand more closely than today’s temperature, according to research published in Nature. If Antarctica was warmer, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research of Geologists and Imperial College London argued that the rest of the world’s climate was incredibly warm at the same time.

Co-author Professor Tina van de Flierdt, from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial, said in a statement, “This 90-million-year-old forest conservation is remarkable, but even more amazing is that it was revealed by Earth. Even after a few months of darkness, the waterlogged climate forest was able to grow closer to the South Pole and even revealed a warmer climate than we expected.” 

Marked as the best day for dinosaurs, the Middle Cretaceous period, 60 to 155 million years ago, was one of the warmest periods in Earth’s history.
Atmospheric high levels of carbon spread warmer around the planet, causing tropical temperatures to average 35 degrees Celsius (95°F) and 170 meters (557 feet) above sea level. But a complete picture of life at the South Pole has long been abandoned by scientists. 

To see the ancient puzzle together, an international team of researchers extracted sedimentary samples from the seabed near an area known as the Amundsen Sea Embassy near Pine Island in West Antarctica and the Thwaites glaciers. Part of the original specimen – a large cylindrical specimen used to maintain the soil layer – has a strange color that makes it look like it depends on the land rather than the seafloor. The department’s CT-scans preserved fossil root systems so well that scientists were able to see individual cell structures, as well as pollen and seed samples of some of the first flowers found in Antarctic latitudes. But what kind of situation would support such a life? The team used simulated climate models with known information about flower and animal specimens to determine the conditions that could support their growth.

The investigation found that Antarctica had a temperature of about 12 degrees Celsius (53 degrees Fahrenheit) – about 2 degrees Celsius higher than the average temperature in Germany today. Summer temperatures were likely to be 19 degrees Celsius (66 ° F) with waterlogging and similar temperatures with rivers. This warmer climate probably meant that there was no ice cap at the time, but instead, the continent was covered in dense vegetation with the help of dense rainfall. Due to its southern location, the continent probably had four months of polar nights, meaning it had zero sunlight for about a third of the year.