Researchers found that what is arctic today was a tropical forest 380 million years ago in the modern cold zone of Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the icy Arctic Ocean. New fossilized tree stumps have seen to possible explanations on why the world’s climate was so different a long time ago.
Our continents as we know them were not what they are today. Each and every one of them were is different places, with different climates, and certainly different animals roaming the Earth. Our planet is currently facing global warming issues, along with a potential sixth mass extinction due to increased temperatures and human activity.
Things, however, were a bit different in the Devonian Era (360 to 420 million years ago).
A starkly different world
Researchers from Cardiff University have discovered fossilized tree stumps in Norway that indicated our world’s most dramatic climate change. What is now the freezing cold Svalbard was once a tropical forest, growing near the equator. The lush forests successfully contributed to a much more different weather than it is today.
According to Dr. Chris Berry, from the university’s School of Earth and Ocean Science, the forests of Svalbard were once made of lycopod trees. Millions of years later, these formations grew into coal swamps, which much later turned into coal deposits. Even more, they weren’t far displaced from each other at all.
In fact, Dr. Berry suggests that the tropical forests were lush and dense, with the trees barely 8 inches apart from each other. And, they grew to absolute giants, reaching heights of 13 feet. However, this was happening around 380 million years ago, according to John Marshall, from Southampton University.
Due to these giants of vegetation that crowded the tropical region, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were 15 times lower in the air than they are today. They were excellent contributors, snatching the CO2 out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis and soil formation.
As stated by Dr. Berry, the plants were absorbing the carbon dioxide in order to build their tissue. The incredibly diversity of vegetation led to such conditions before the tectonic plates began moving and essentially change their geographic location.
Previously to them, the era was marked by small plant life. The vegetation eventually grew into tall lycopod trees, which led to a drastic reduction in temperatures due to CO2 levels. It’s the exact opposite of what is happening today. Denser forests led to lower CO2 levels, which meant colder weather.
Svalbard is currently home to the “Global Seed Vault”, used to essentially refrigerate plant seeds from around the world. Its icy temperatures today has turned it into a perfect preservation environment. It wasn’t always that way though.
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