ANTARCTICA AS WARM AS CALIFORNIA 50 MILLION YEARS AGO
11 June 2014
Scientists have found that parts of the southern polar region may have been as hot as modern day California over 50 million years ago.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by scientists from Yale. Based on their findings, CO2 levels in the atmosphere were high enough in the past to bring about greenhouse climate conditions in Antarctica. This period of polar warming happened around 40 million to 50 million years ago during a period of time known as the Eocene epoch. The researchers published their findings in the online journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
In contemporary times, Antarctica is considered as one of the coldest places on the planet. However, the new research shows that even the polar regions are susceptible to drastic changes in temperature. The new method of measuring temperatures in the past can also be used to improve current climate modeling systems in order to increase the accuracy of climate forecasts in the future.
The team was able to measure temperatures in the past by analyzing concentrations of certain rate isotopes found in fossil shells that were millions of years old. The team's analysis showed that 50 million years ago, temperatures in some parts of Antarctica could reach around 63 degrees Fahrenheit or 17 degrees Celsius. The researchers were also able to calculate that temperatures in certain parts of the continent were around 57F (14C).