[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
45 MYA Redwoods Found Near North Pole
Once upon a time, Axel Heilberg Island was a very strange place.
Located within the Arctic Circle north of mainland Canada, a full 8/9ths
of the way from the equator to the North Pole, the uninhabited Canadian
island is far enough north to make Iceland look like a great spot for a
winter getaway, and today theres not much to it beyond miles of rocks,
ice, a few mosses, and many fossils.
The fossils tell of a different era, though, an odd time about 45 million
years ago when Axel Heilberg, still as close to the North Pole as it is
now, was covered in a forest of redwood-like trees known as metasequoias.
Hope Jahren, an assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences in
the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University,
recently published results that partially demystified Axel Heilbergs
vanished forests. Jahren and colleague Leo Sternberg of the University
of Miami uncovered evidence that the Axel Heilbergs forests probably
received equatorial water and warmth from a prehistoric weather pattern
unlike anything in existence today.
Other challenging mysteries remain, including how a forest could develop
given the sunlight it would receive on Axel Heilberg. Because of its
closeness to the North Pole both now and in the time of the redwoods,
Axel Heilberg spends four months of each year in continuous sunlight and four
months of each year in continuous darkness.
We dont have plants that can survive under those conditions today, let
alone forests, Jahren says. For a tree to endure four months of daylight
is like you or I going without sleep for four months.
Warmed by equatorial waters making it that far north? Might shed some
light on dino remains found at high latitudes.