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Natural World

Could palm trees grow in the Antarctic ?

August 2, 2012 | Comment icon 13 comments



Image Credit: Calee Allen / NOAA
If climate change continues then the Antarctic could be transformed in to a lush forest zone.
The prediction comes following the discovery by scientists of evidence suggesting that the Antarctic would have once been a tropical zone covered in trees 55 million years ago. By studying this prehistoric world it is hoped that researchers can learn more about what the future might have in store if global warming continues.

With summer temperatures of 21C and winter temperatures as high as 10C, the frost-free forests would have remained warm even throughout long periods of darkness. "Our work carries a sobering message," said Dr James Bendle. "Carbon dioxide levels are rising rapidly through human combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation. Atmospherically speaking we are heading rapidly back in time towards the Eocene."
Scientists have discovered plants similar to palm trees growing in the Antarctic region during the early Eocene era, when the area had a near-tropical climate.


Source: Telegraph | Comments (13)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Jaygatz 9 years ago
Yeah this is really no big surprise. I live in Yukon territory in Canada, and they have found fossilized palm trees here. Not to sure in my opinion that the climate was ever like that here, but maybe it was, could have also been the drifting of the continents aswell, places werent in the same spot they are now. Just sayin.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Skithia 9 years ago
Early Eocene was about 55 million years ago - were the continents in the places they are now? Continental drift theory has that Antartica used to be nearer the equator at some point in the past.
Comment icon #6 Posted by OverSword 9 years ago
So we shouldn't worry about the loss of rain forest in Brazil because soon we will have a brand spankin new one in Antarctica.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Sundew 9 years ago
Before these people worry about "palm trees" growing in the Antarctic, they might want to see if they can even get conifers from the Arctic to even live there. My understanding is that there are only two higher plants that live in Antarctica, once species of grass and one plant from the daisy family, and they only grow in the warmest coastal areas. More global warming alarmism. Many things could happen, we may have another ice age, who knows.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Device 9 years ago
I'd like to see it just stay as snow, to be honest. A vast wilderness of snow.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Andami 9 years ago
Edit: I actually take that back. Apparently the continents were near their current positions 55 mya. My bad.
Comment icon #10 Posted by jules99 9 years ago
Edit: I actually take that back. Apparently the continents were near their current positions 55 mya. My bad. Well; yeah I was about to say the same.... and its hinted at in the article; "The research found winters were an “extremely mild” 10C, with warm summer temperatures up to 21C, and were “essentially frost-free despite polar darkness”.
Comment icon #11 Posted by 3.0 9 years ago
Who plants the first tree?
Comment icon #12 Posted by csspwns 9 years ago
RIP penguins
Comment icon #13 Posted by keithisco 9 years ago
One thing that is not clear here "in the Antarctic Region" means nothing at all. Just what and where is this region? "Palm Like " trees? do not confuse this with Tropical Palm trees that we know of, because the earliest trees were all "Palm Like" no matter where they grew. One thing that is not in doubt, is the higher levels of CO2 in the Eocene period, levels that may be returning. Human society is not prepared, or even able to react to this scenario, no matter how advanced they may think they are.


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