What a difference a millennia makes! Antarctic was at one time like coastal California
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/22/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
It's amazing what a millennia - or two can make on real estate. Two new studies claim that the chilly expanses of Antarctica were at one time very much like coastal California today! The two new studies are helping scientists determine the effects of long-term climate change.
It's amazing what a millennia - or two can make on real estate. Two new studies claim that the chilly expanses of Antarctica were at one time very much like coastal California today!
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both studies appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The first study examines fossil shells collected from a small island off the coast of Antarctica, linked to the Eocene epoch, a period 40-50 million years ago.
Measuring the amounts of carbon-13 and oxygen-18 in the shells, scientists determined that the temperatures were as high as 63 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the continent. They then averaged about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. At that time, water in that area of the Pacific Ocean was around 72 degrees, which is the same as coastal Florida's waters today.
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"Quantifying past temperatures helps us understand the sensitivity of the climate system to greenhouse gases, and especially the amplification of global warming in Polar Regions," co-author Hagit Affek said in a press release.
"This study gives us a clearer perspective of just how warm Antarctica was when the Earth's atmosphere contained much more CO2 than it does today," lead author Peter M.J. Douglas adds. "We now know that it was warm across the continent, but also that some parts were considerably warmer than others. This provides strong evidence that global warming is especially pronounced close to the Earth's poles."
A new method for determining the age of Antarctic ice was explored in the second study. Researchers measured radioactive krypton atoms in ice core samples from the Taylor Glacier, determining that they are 120,000 years old.
The sampling method can now be used to find older samples. "The oldest ice found in drilled cores is around 800,000 years old, and with this new technique we think we can look in other regions and successfully date polar ice back as far as 1.5 million years," co-author Christo Buizert said in a press release.
"That is very exciting, because a lot of interesting things happened with the earth's climate prior to 800,000 years ago that we currently cannot study in the ice-core record."
Having newfound tools to find and date older samples could reveal interesting finds.
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