Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Global warming dramatically changed ancient forests

November 14, 2005

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Palmettos in Pennsylvania? Magnolias in Minnesota? The migration of subtropical plants to northern climates may not be too far-fetched if future global warming patterns mirror a monumental shift that took place in the past, new research by an international team of scientists suggests.

The findings, which appear in this week's issue of the journal Science, provide the first evidence that land plants changed drastically during a period of sudden global warming 55 million years ago, said Jonathan Bloch, a University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist and member of the research team.

"It indicates that should we have a period of rapid global warming on that scale today, we might expect very dramatic changes to the biota of the planet, not just the mammals and other vertebrates, but forests also completely changing," said Bloch, who is a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

Scientists have known there was significant turnover in mammals during this rapid period of global warming called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, in which temperatures rose by perhaps as much as 10 degrees in the relatively short time span of 10,000 years, then lasting for another 80,000 to 100,000 years, Bloch said.

Global warming allowed mammals to emigrate across northern land bridges, marking the first appearance of perissodactlys in the form of the earliest known horse; artiodactyls, a group of even-toed ungulates that includes pigs, camels and hippos; as well as modern primates, he said.

But until now, no clues were available as to what happened to plants during this shift, considered one of the most extreme global warming events during the Cenozoic, the "Age of Mammals," Bloch said. "It was very puzzling because it looked like there was nothing going on with plants, which was rather strange and disconcerting."

Excavations by team leader Scott Wing, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution, in the Bighorn Basin of northwestern Wyoming uncovered fossil leaves and pollen alongside fossilized mammals in rocks that were deposited during this turbulent geologic interval.

"Up until this point we have not had a place in which we have mammal and plant remains preserved in the same rocks spanning what we call the Paleocene-Eocene boundary," Bloch said. "Amazingly, these plants came from what would have been more tropical environments."

Some of the plant remains resembled those found in rock deposits of similar age unearthed in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, including relatives of poinsettia and sumac, Bloch said.

However, plant fossils found in the same area dating immediately before and after this period of rising temperatures reflected typical mid-latitude forests of the time and included relatives of dawn redwood, alder, sycamore and walnut, Bloch said. As temperatures cooled, floral newcomers appeared from Europe, including species of linden and wing nut. These plants probably emigrated along the same land bridges that animals traveled, he said.

Because his research specialty is mammals, Bloch said he is particularly interested in understanding how the movement of plants affected the earliest evolution of modern primates, which first appeared throughout the world during this period.

"I would very much like to know what these forests were like when these first modern primates were coming in because it has implications for how these animals lived and behaved right from the beginning," he said.

If the landscape evolved from an initially drier habitat, with patchy open spaces, into a more lush tropical forest with densely packed trees, it might have played a role in the evolution of primates' climbing skills, Bloch said. The ancestors of living primates would have been leaping through the tree canopy, foraging for fruit and insects, he said.

Partly because of the dramatic change in mammals, including the first appearance of modern primates, and also because of the interval's rapid temperature change, there has been a wide range of scientific interest in the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, Bloch said.

The warming was caused by a gigantic release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that was comparable to the atmospheric effects expected from human burning of fossil fuels, he said.

"You can't predict the future, but there has been a time in the past where we had similar type of conditions, and we might look to that experience," Bloch said.

University of Florida


Related Global Warming Current Events and Global Warming News Articles


Deep, old water explains why Antarctic Ocean hasn't warmed
The waters surrounding Antarctica may be one of the last places to experience human-driven climate change.

Supermassive black holes in 'red geyser' galaxies cause galactic warming
An international team of scientists, including the University of Kentucky's Renbin Yan, have uncovered a new class of galaxies, called "red geysers," with supermassive black hole winds so hot and energetic that stars can't form.

Rutgers scientists help create world's largest coral gene database
Coral reefs - stunning, critical habitats for an enormous array of prized fish and other species - have survived five major extinction events over the last 250 million years.

Natural regeneration of tropical forests helps global climate mitigation and forest restoration
Climate scientists have long recognized the importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration -- capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Will more snow over Antarctica offset rising seas? Don't count on it
Many factors related to warming will conspire to raise the planet's oceans over coming decades -- thermal expansion of the world's oceans, melting of snow and ice worldwide, and the collapse of massive ice sheets.

Atmospheric aerosols can significantly cool down climate
It is possible to significantly slow down and even temporarily stop the progression of global warming by increasing the atmospheric aerosol concentration, shows a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. However, climate engineering does not remove the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists predict extensive ice loss from huge Antarctic glacier
Current rates of climate change could trigger instability in a major Antarctic glacier, ultimately leading to more than 2m of sea-level rise.

Increased vegetation in the Arctic region may counteract global warming
Climate change creates more shrub vegetation in barren, arctic ecosystems. A study at Lund University in Sweden shows that organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, are triggered to break down particularly nutritious dead parts of shrubbery.

Farms have become a major air-pollution source
A new study says that emissions from farms outweigh all other human sources of fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China.

Natural regeneration of tropical forests reaps benefits
The importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration - capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere - has long been recognized by climate scientists. But, detailed information needed to make accurate estimates of this potential has been missing.
More Global Warming Current Events and Global Warming News Articles

Climate Change: The Facts

Climate Change: The Facts
by J.Abbot (Author), J.S. Armstrong (Author), A.Bolt (Author), R.Carter (Author), R.Darwall (Author), J.Delingpole (Author), C.Essex (Author), S.Franks (Author), K.Green (Author), D.Laframboise (Author), N.Lawson (Author), B.Lewin (Author), R.Lindzen (Author), J.Marohasy (Author), R.McKitrick (Author), P.Michaels (Author), A.Moran (Author), J.Nova (Author), G.Paltridge (Author), I.Plimer (Author), W.Soon (Author), M.Steyn (Author), A.Watts (Author), Alan Moran (Editor)


Tirelessly promoted by princes, presidents, actors and activists, "climate change" has become a dominant theme of global politics. But what's really going on as the "pause" in global warming prepares to enter its third decade? In this new anthology, leading scientists and commentators from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia consider the climate from every angle - the science, the policy and the politics.

General Winter

General Winter
by : Дом Дураков


To free the Northwest Passage of ice, one young scientist devises an ingenious plan to heat the Gulf Stream. But nothing so economically valuable, or so environmentally controversial, can be accomplished without making powerful enemies across the globe, and Sergei Lavrov doesn’t know who to trust. Lifelong friends and government allies are all suspect as the Great Arctic Works suffer one devastating blow after another.

Major Dmitry Komarov of State Security knows it’s sabotage. Through the taiga forests and into the heart of Moscow, the Major chases an elusive figure across the frozen north to prove it.

In an adventurous tale of science against the elements, General Winter reveals the cold brutality of the Russian Arctic and challenges the brightest minds to...

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
by Naomi Klein (Author)


The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance...

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
by Elizabeth Kolbert (Author)


WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALISTA major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply...

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know®
by Joseph Romm (Author)


Climate change will have a bigger impact on humanity than the Internet has had. The last decade's spate of superstorms, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts has accelerated the public discourse on this topic and lent credence to climatologist Lonnie Thomson's 2010 statement that climate change "represents a clear and present danger to civilization." In June 2015, the Pope declared that action on climate change is a moral issue.

This book offers the most up-to-date examination of climate change's foundational science, its implications for our future, and the core clean energy solutions. Alongside detailed but highly accessible descriptions of what is causing climate change, this entry in the What Everyone Needs to Know series answers questions about the practical implications of this...

Global Warming-Alarmists, Skeptics and Deniers: A Geoscientist Looks at the Science of Climate Change

Global Warming-Alarmists, Skeptics and Deniers: A Geoscientist Looks at the Science of Climate Change
by G. Dedrick Robinson (Author), Gene D. Robinson III (Author)


Global Warming-Alarmists, Skeptics & Deniers: A Geoscientist looks at the Science of Climate Change, brings a unique geological perspective to this politically charged issue, a perspective that has been ignored far too long. Written by a father-son team of geoscientist and attorney, it is the concise guide to the global warming controversy that has been long needed. As a university professor and research geologist for thirty years, Dr. Robinson knows that geological science is essential for placing the global warming controversy in proper prospective. One cannot hope to understand how humans might be causing climate change without an understanding of the magnitude and speed natural processed are capable of when it comes to climate change. Earth history is the only yardstick we have to...

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming
by Craig D. Idso (Author), Robert M. Carter (Author), S. Fred Singer (Author)


Probably the most widely repeated claim in the debate over global warming is that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is man-made and dangerous, the authors write. This claim is not only false, but its presence in the debate is an insult to science. With these words, the authors begin a detailed analysis of one of the most controversial topics of the day. The authors make a compelling case against claims of a scientific consensus. The purported proof of such a consensus consists of sloppy research by nonscientists, college students, and a highly partisan Australian blogger. Surveys of climate scientists, even those heavily biased in favor of climate alarmism, find extensive disagreement on the underlying science and doubts about its reliability. The authors point to four...

Climate change

Climate change
by The Open University


This 5-hour free course laid out the case for an end to the human reliance on fossil fuels and looked at some of the ways this might be possible.

Global warming

Global warming
by The Open University


This 5-hour free course explored the history of global warming, the impact of humans on global warming and models of climate change.

Global Warming

Global Warming
by Seymour Simon (Author)


Award-winning science writer Seymour Simon gives you a full-color photographic introduction to the causes and effects of global warming and climate change. Earth's climate has always varied, but it is now changing more rapidly than at any other time in recent centuries. The climate is very complex, and many factors play important roles in determining how it changes. Why is the climate changing? Could Earth be getting warmer by itself? Are people doing things that make the climate warmer?Supports the Common Core State Standards

© 2016 BrightSurf.com