Public Release: 

EARTH: Antarctic trees surprise scientists

American Geosciences Institute

Alexandria, VA - "Warm" and "Antarctica" are not commonly used in the same sentence; however, for scientists, "warm" is a relative term. A team of researchers has discovered that, contrary to previous thinking, the Antarctic continent has experienced periods of warmth since the onset of its most recent glaciation.

Lodged in ocean sediment nearly 20 million years old, ancient pollen and leaf wax samples taken from the Ross Ice Shelf suggest that two brief warming spells, each of which lasted less than 30,000 years, punctuated the omnipresent cold of Antarctica. Warm, again, is a relative term, as the suggested maximum temperature reached a balmy 7 degrees Celsius in the summer -- about 11 degrees warmer than conditions today. These data, researchers say, may hold the key to answering how Earth's climate and hydrological systems are inextricably linked. Find out how by reading the story online at http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/antarctic-trees-surprise-scientists.

Make sure to check out all the other great stories in the September issue of EARTH Magazine online at http://www.earthmagazine.org. Find out how physicists fingerprint plutonium; learn how dams and groundwater pumping may influence sea level; and discover how ordinary people are becoming citizen scientists, all in this month's issue of EARTH.

###

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at http://www.earthmagazine.org. Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.