Today, only a few plants can be seen in the Antarctic, which appear for a couple of weeks a year. They are able to live in the poor soil of the southern continent with a minimal amount of sun and heat. But a long time ago some parts of Antarctica were really rich flora.
New studies have shown that between 15 and 20 million years ago, life has flourished on the coast of Antarctica.
The study of ancient pollen samples showed that these places resembled modern Chilean Andes — at the foot of the mountains were flat grassy landscape with small trees.
Peak Wild Growth of vegetation in these areas was Miocene period, when carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 400-600 ppm. (Today, because of serious use of fossil fuel carbon dioxide levels reach 393 parts per million). As a result, the temperature began to rise in the world.
Antarctica has also been changing. During this period of warming summer temperatures up to 11 degrees Celsius, it is warmer than today."As the planet warms, the biggest changes are taking place at its poles, — says researcher Jung-Eun Lee (Jung-Eun Lee) of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA. — Movement rain bands south coast of Antarctica made unlike the polar desert. These areas are more like modern Iceland. "
NASA scientists and researchers from University of South Carolina and Louisiana State University
collected samples of sedimentary rock layers near the Ross Ice Shelf. They found traces of vegetable wax, an indication of the ancient vegetation in these areas. Also found in these samples, pollen and algae.
Analysis of plant wax helped determine the amount of water consumed by plant life. Next, the scientists were able to trace the variation of the hydrogen molecules in water — isotopes. Since isotopes at different times and under different conditions may vary, it allowed scientists to determine which at that time could be observed climate, when the water falls back to earth as rain.
If you are currently the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase, it will reach the level of the middle Miocene period levels by the end of this century. The northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by 2.5 degrees Celsius over the past 50 years, and satellites show a greater rate of disappearance of the ice shelf.
Ancient deposits in Antarctica show where this is going. "The history of the world has a lot of what we learn, including the climate of the past can tell you how to deal with the situation today,", — researchers say.