Green deserts, arctic palms

Paleobotanic David Greenwood has been collecting fossilized plants from this era in Australia for decades, most recently University of Connecticut With the help of his colleague Tammo Reichgelt, he reconstructed the old with the help of other specialists green house Australian vegetation climate. about work paleobiology and paleoclimatology Reported in a magazine published in the magazine.

In the Eocene, about 55-40 million years ago, the so-called global warming conditions dominated our planet, palm trees grow in the Arctic and South Arctic, and today desert regions, such as Australia, were covered with abundant forests. Since plants behave differently under different climatic conditions, their fossils provide an excellent opportunity to study past conditions. The researchers have now studied the relationships between vegetation growth and rainfall conditions and compared them to today’s conditions. The fossils have provided a very detailed picture of greenhouse conditions in the Eocene.

“If a plant has big leaves, it evaporates a lot, and if the sun shines too hard, it will wilt and then die if it doesn’t get enough water,” Rechgelt said. So if large-leaved plant fossils are found, it is possible that it is known Neither It was neither dry nor cold in its former habitat. These morphological features revealed the previous living conditions of the plants. The composition of the vegetation is also evident, with other climates favored by forests of oak, beech and other conifers.

The remains of an incredibly fine 45-million-year-old leaf from the Australian region of Anglesey.

Source: University of Connecticut

Based on the reconstruction, the interior of Australia during the Eocene period also received very heavy rains, and the southern part of the continent, now deserted, was covered with abundant forests, with productivity comparable to the forests of New England (USA) today. 40-60 in the northern hemisphere in our time. There are huge forests within the latitudes (think Siberia, Canada), but there are no large lands in the southern hemisphere, so this wooded area is also missing. However, Australia was also included in the Eocene and thus had more carbon sequestration than at present.

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The researchers added that better knowledge and understanding of the Eocene also helps greatly in predicting climate change today, as we move in many respects toward conditions at the time (but changes in the Eocene were much slower). “We have a similar database of plant fossils all over the world, so we can use the methods we use now to see how the biosphere behaves globally,” Rechgelt added.

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