Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fossil trees help understand climate change

06.05.2004


Scientists at Bristol University have established the time when mountains first became forested. The timing of upland ‘greening’ has major implications for understanding global temperatures in the past, and will help refine models of present-day climate change.



A unique assemblage of giant fossil trees has been found in 300-million-year-old rocks in Newfoundland, Canada, by Dr Howard Falcon-Lang of Bristol University’s Earth Sciences Department. The fossilised trees represent the oldest upland forests ever documented. They were more than 45m in height and were the ancestors of present-day conifers.

Because vegetation growing at high-altitudes is rarely preserved as fossils, the formation of upland forests has long been the subject of great controversy. Knowing when this happened is highly important because forests accelerate the rate at which rock is weathered, which in turn removes huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This causes global cooling – a reverse of the greenhouse effect.


Dr Falcon Lang said: ‘Models of the Earth’s climatic evolution have long indicated that a dramatic cooling event occurred in the Early Carboniferous Period, the age immediately preceding the formation of the Newfoundland rocks. It seems likely that the evolution of upland forests during Carboniferous times accelerated the rate that the mountains were weathering, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and leading to the observed global cooling.’

The fossil trees were alive at a time when North America and Europe lay together on the equator and were covered by steamy tropical rainforests – the remains of which occur today as vast coal deposits. A huge Himalayan-scale mountain belt is known to have stretched across this ancient tropical zone from France to Texas. The Newfoundland rocks were deposited in a tiny basin right in the heart of this mountain belt.

The greening of upland environments exerted an enormous impact on the global carbon cycle and climate. Knowing the timing of when they formed helps understand the huge contribution trees in upland areas make to the Earth’s climate.

The work of Dr Falcon-Lang and his Masters student, Arden Bashforth from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, will be reported in the May issue of GEOLOGY.

Cherry Lewis | alfa
Further information:
http://www.gsajournals.org/gsaonline/?request=get-document&doi=10.1130%2FG20371.1

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed
21.03.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

nachricht Mars volcano, Earth's dinosaurs went extinct about the same time
21.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>