100 million years of Antarctic climate evolution: evidence from fossil plants
The evolution of Antarctic climate from a Cretaceous greenhouse into the Neogene icehouse is captured within a rich record of fossil leaves, wood, pollen, and flowers from the Antarctic Peninsula and the Transantarctic Mountains. About 85 million years ago, during the mid-Late Cretaceous, flowering plants thrived in subtropical climates in Antarctica. Analysis of their leaves and flowers, many of which were ancestors of plants that live in the tropics today, indicates that summer temperatures averaged 20°C during this global thermal maximum. After the Paleocene (~60 Ma) warmth-loving plants gradually lost their place in the vegetation and were replaced by floras dominated by araucarian conifers (monkey puzzles) and the southern beech Nothofagus, which tolerated freezing winters. Plants hung on tenaciously in high latitudes, even after ice sheets covered the land, and during periods of interglacial warmth in the Neogene small dwarf plants survived in tundra-like conditions within 500 km of the South Pole.
Authors: Francis, J.E., Ashworth, A.C., Cantrill, D.J., Crame, J.A. ORCID record for J.A. Crame, Howe, J., Stephens, R.S., Tosolini, A.-M., Thorn, V.
Editors: Cooper, A.K., Barrett, P., Storey, B., Stump, E., Wise, W.
In: Cooper, A.K., Barrett, P., Storey, B., Stump, E., Wise, W. (eds.). Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World, Washington, D.C., National Academies Press, 19-28.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.