The Changing Climate

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


A century ago, captain Larsen, commanding a whaling vessel, discovered fossil wood on the Antarctic Peninsula, where nowadays only a few lichens grow [1]. Apparently, the climate in the remote past was much warmer than today. Recently, some crocodile-like fossils were found near northern Greenland — animals restricted to subtropical parts of the world. These fossils are some 90 million years old, dating back to the mid-Cretaceous [2]. At that time mean annual temperatures at polar latitudes were apparently above 14°C. After this high point a cooling trend set in, and by 30–40 million years ago an ice cap may have formed over the Antarctic continent which gradually increased in extent and is still there today [3]. Of course, one has to take into account that continents have moved over geological timescales (section 2.4), but these locations have remained at high latitudes over the last 100 million years.


Solar Activity Antarctic Peninsula Glacial Period Thermohaline Circulation Maunder Minimum 
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5.11 Notes and references

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© Praxis Publishing Ltd. 2008

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