Skip to comments.Trees on Antarctica in 200 years: researchers
Posted on 07/19/2006 11:24:11 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
MARK COLVIN: A gathering of the world's Antarctic researchers has heard predictions that trees might grow on the frozen continent within a century or two.
Eight hundred and fifty scientists are in Hobart for the combined meetings of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and the Council Managers of National Antarctic Programs.
Over the next week, they'll share their research findings and discuss future scientific studies. Already, one climate researcher believes carbon dioxide levels will double over the next century. Another scientist believes change will be evident within decades.
Sabra Lane reports.
SABRA LANE: Twenty-nine nations have scientists on Antarctica, studying everything from moss to ice cores, krill and global warming.
During the summer months, the frozen continent's home to more than 4,000 people.
Eight hundred and fifty of them are currently in Hobart, for the combined meetings of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and the Council Managers of National Antarctic Programs.
Professor Robert Dunbar from Stanford University predicts carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will double over the next 100 to 200 years.
He believes it's a case of back to the future, with Antarctica returning to what it was like 20 million years ago.
ROBERT DUNBAR: There were trees, there were bushes, there were fields of grass, in fact the evidence from pollen fossils is that much of Antarctica was vegetated and these were plants that were able to adapt to periods of darkness but the key is that it wasn't cold enough to freeze water.
SABRA LANE: But Dr Mike Meredith from the British Antarctic Survey believes we'll witness change in the next few decades.
He's observed a rapid change on the continent's western peninsula.
MIKE MEREDITH: We found that the ocean west of the peninsula has actually warmed much more than the average warming of the global ocean.
The whole global ocean is getting warmer, but in this one particular area, it's warming very, very rapidly indeed.
SABRA LANE: Dr Meredith suspects rising levels of carbon dioxide are to blame but says further research is needed.
He says since 1950, there's been a rapid retreat of sea-ice, warming the upper layer of the ocean.
MIKE MEREDITH: In the summertime the temperature has increased by a little bit over one degree. And that doesn't sound like a lot, if you just say, you know, a one degree change in temperature, you know, is that significant, is that meaningful?
But the amount of heat that you need to put in the ocean to create that change is actually very, very large, and we've already seen the warming of a little over one degree. So if it continues at the same rate, within the next few decades, it could be bad news for these species.
SABRA LANE: The western Antarctic peninsula is a crucial breeding ground to a number of species, which can cope with the extreme cold, but not with rising temperatures.
MIKE MEREDITH: Limpets, animals that live on the seabed in relatively shallow waters, so 10 metres down, 20 metres down, in terms of the number of species, it's hard to say.
But there are other species as well, aside from the benthic animals. One of the ones that really matters in the Antarctic food web, is Antarctic krill. That's one of the key species in the Antarctic food webs, because lots of larger animals like whales and seals and penguins will feed off the krill.
And we know that krill is predominantly a cold water species. They like living in cold water, so if you start raising the temperature of that water, it could have very negative consequences for the krill, and also for everything that feeds off the krill, like the whales, the penguins, the higher predators.
SABRA LANE: And the complicated part of this climate calculation is knowing exactly when it will occur, and Dr Meredith says that's anyone's guess.
MIKE MEREDITH: The real problem is that the global climate models don't predict the atmospheric warming, or the ocean warming, at the Antarctic Peninsula at all well.
In most of the models it's just completely absent, which means we can't then make predictions based on those models to how it will evolve in the future.
MARK COLVIN: The British Antarctic Survey's Dr Mike Meredith, ending that report by Sabra Lane.
...cool! Maybe the place will be a beach resort!
We're up to our bellybuttons in global warming BS... Does that count?
I'll make a prediction that there will be icebergs on the equator in 200 years. Also, peanut butter won't stick to the roof of the mouth in 200 years. Go ahead and prove me wrong. :)
I knew they would have to bring George into it.
At which point, it will be warm enough to drill for oil and mine gold and diamonds.
More trees for Australia too,...seems good!
Should the United States take over Antarctica?
I have an Australian willow in my front yard,, I'd be more than happy to offer a shoot or two to our buddies down under. ;-)
Good. That should make the tree huggers happy.
More trees to hug.
Of course then when it gets cold again there, they'll be blaming the United States for destroying the Antartic forest.
It was a jungle and was crawling with dinosaurs at on time.
When hell freezes over ...
Can condos be far behind?
Isn't it amazing how only the views that agree with the "there's gonna be trees in Antarctica" view appear to be worthy of being interviews?? Does this mean that all 850 attendees agree with that hypothesis?? I kind of doubt it.
I always thought there was water under all that ice, not furtile soil to grow trees on. I learn something everyday here in FReeperland :)
And scientists in 1900 said that by 2000, the world would have an overbundance (read: PLAGUE) of....horse manure.
They were off slightly, they got the species incorrect. With people like Algore, today we have an abundance of bull manure.
That is the case with the North Pole.
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