Ancient Leaf Wax Tells the Story of Plant Life in Antarctica

The Southern Continent is so cold, that no substantial plant life can possibly survive, but this was not always so. A university-led study with participation from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), has found evidence showing that ancient Antarctica was much warmer and wetter than previously believed. Sediment core samples were drilled beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, where they found remnants of plant leaf wax from 15 to 20 million years ago. From these remnants, the scientists could calculate that Antarctic temperatures used to be 20 degrees warmer than today and precipitation was higher. This glimpse into Antarctica’s ancient past will help give clues as to what to expect in a warmer future.

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