Antarctica was once a Rainforest

Page 23, The Week, 18 April 2020

Antarctica was once a rainforest

Ninety million years ago, Antarctica was a mild, rainy place covered in dense rainforest, an analysis of an ice core has revealed. Extracted from the seabed near the Thwaites Glacier, the ice was found to contain well-preserved forest soil from the mid-Cretaceous period, with a network of roots and the remains of flowering plants.

Using computer simulations, an international team of scientists modelled the conditions that would have enabled such plants to grow, and found that the average temperature would have been about 12°C, rising to 19°C in summer. “Even during months of darkness, swampy, temperate rainforests were able to grow close to the South Pole, revealing an even warmer climate than we expected,” said co-author Prof Tina van de Flierdt, of Imperial College London.

Further modelling indicated that the global CO2 concentration at the time would have been very high at least 1,120 parts per million – largely as. a result of extreme volcanic activity. Last year, the global average was 414.7ppm.