Antarctic Region Once Hot as California, Florida


antarcticaScientists using a new method of measuring temperatures from the past have discovered that there were parts of ancient Antarctica that were just as warm then, as the California coast today; as were polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean in comparison to modern Florida heat. These new measurements will help scientists in their climate models used to predict the future climate, according to author and associate professor of geology and geophysics, Hagit Affek of Yale.

According to the article in Science Daily news that was based on the findings published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new measurements underscore the potential for increased warmth at the Earth’s poles, and the resulting melting of the polar ice which leads to increases in sea levels.

The study was led by scientists from Yale and focused on the Antarctica and the Eocene epoch from 40 to 50 million years ago. During this period of time, there were high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 — which also meant a greenhouse climate.

The scientists measured concentration of rare isotopes found in ancient fossil shells, providing them with data that indicated temperatures in the area had reached as high as 17° Celsius during the Eocene, and were at an average of 14° Celsius, which is comparable to the temperatures of the California Coast today. In addition, Eocene temperatures in areas of the southern Pacific Ocean measured 22° Centigrade, which is comparable to today’s seawater temperatures near Florida. The fact that ancient ocean temperatures were higher on the South Pacific side of the Antarctica suggests a temperature difference that was caused by ocean currents. The information gathered by the scientists shows them how warm temperatures were in Antarctica during a time that the Earth’s atmosphere was much higher in CO2, indicating that global warming is especially pronounced near the Earth’s poles. This warming has significant consequences, due to ocean circulation and the melting of polar ice that results in increased sea levels.

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