Antarctic palms found, according to articles in BBC and ScienceDaily 1 August 2012 and Nature vol. 488, p73, 2 Aug 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11300. An International team of scientists have studied a sediment core extracted from deep in the sea floor off the eastern coast of Antarctica by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). They found pollen and spores from palm trees, baobab trees, macadamia trees, Araucaria trees and other tropical and subtropical vegetation. They also found micro-organisms called archaea, whose cell walls change their molecular structure with variations in temperature. These changes are preserved when they die, so the scientists were able to estimate the temperature of the soil they lived in. The researchers concluded the temperatures in Antarctica at the time of these trees and microbes did not go below 10 degrees Celsius (50 F), with daytime temperatures into the mid 20s (over 70 F). The sediment core is dated as 52 million years old, a period known as the Eocene. According to the Nature Editor’s Summary: “During the early Eocene epoch, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were perhaps three times those of the modern era. There was a generally flattened latitudinal temperature gradient, and the poles were much warmer than they are at present”. The warm polar regions are considered to result from a combination of the high carbon dioxide (CO2) and warm ocean currents. Jörg Pross, a paleoclimatologist at the Goethe University explained: “The CO2 content of the atmosphere as assumed for that time interval is not enough on its own to explain the almost tropical conditions in the Antarctic. Another important factor was the transfer of heat via warm ocean currents that reached Antarctica”.

BBC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: A “generally flattened latitudinal temperature gradient” means temperatures over the world were more even than they are now. This means when the polar regions are warm enough for life, the equatorial regions are not too hot for life, as the climate alarmists would want people to assume. At present Antarctica and the high Arctic regions are uninhabitable, but think how much more of the earth would be available to live in if they were warm enough for trees and other vegetation to grow. Studies of sediment cores at the other end of the earth, the Arctic, indicate it also once supported forests. See our report “Was Greenland really green?” in this Fact File. Furthermore, we know from our own experiments, and from the fossil record, high carbon dioxide is associated with increased plant growth and lush vegetation, and therefore more food for animals and humans. Overall, evenly distributed warmth and a high carbon dioxide atmosphere would be good for the whole planet and the whole human race. By the way, Macadamia nuts were originally called Queensland nuts, after the tropical Australian state where they were found. Perhaps we should rename them Antarctic nuts. And no – such evidence is not the result of continental drift, and the red laterised soils under the Antarctic snow have been a dead giveaway for a long time that the climate used to be warm and wet. (Ref. climate, weather, botany, forests)

Evidence News 8 August 2012