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 Algorithm provides early warning system for tracking groundwater contamination
14.08.2018 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht Artificial Glaciers in Response to Climate Change?
10.08.2018 | Universität Heidelberg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>