Ice, empty, isolated, cold.
These are many words commonly referred to as describe Antarctica, but the area is not just that.
There is a period where vast land in the southern element of the Earth is filled with forests and dinosaurs live freely.
But how can the wilderness with the ice mound have warm weather and support the life of this very large Earth creature?
To understand it, you must witness geological time. Antarctica is an ice-free region in the Cretaceous period, which stretched from 145 to 66 million years ago.
This period maybe very strange, but we can find out because this is the last period of the dinosaurs before the asteroids fell to Earth and burned them.
At this time, there was wilderness on two bodies of the Earth. The fossils of cold-blooded trees and reptiles that were found allowed all researchers to build a reflection of how the climate of those days.
Cold-blooded reptiles need warmth to survive; now we see them basking in the heat of the sun to warm themselves during the day. The importance is warm enough for them to survive in the dark
Scientists also use fossils of shelled animals that live in the sea that have the name foraminifera to know the past climate.
By examining the chemical elements in the shell and understanding the age intervals when the species are living opposite, they can obtain estimates of seawater temperature in that period.
Dr. Brian Huber of The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History investigated the Cretaceous period with special concentration at as many points in the deep sea during Antarctica.
He explained; “Foraminifera gives the best data because you can have both. Living things that live on the seabed live in sediments and record the temperature of the seabed, and then you get planktonic which lives in the top fifty meters of the ocean that records atmospheric temperatures.
“When we pair these records all the time and research shells from many parts of the ocean in all the world, we get the best proposal about climate change.”
Huber explained that what they found in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica had been challenging to rely on because it was too warm; “We are pursuing temperatures of 30C at 58 degrees south,” close to the Antarctic Circle.
This high temperature occurs around the middle of the Cretaceous, known as the ‘Cretaceous Hothouse’ – the location effect of staying hot glass caused by the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
But what happened in the Cretaceous period to the point where trees and dinosaurs roamed Antarctica were not like barren ice fields today?
Huber explained; “What you know about the mid-Cretaceous in particular is that you have a much faster rate of seafloor spread and fewer CO2 volcanic sources.”
Huber and his colleagues are still investigating whether ‘greenhouses’ occur as a result of large volcanic eruptions that produce CO2 and make blankets the location of glass that warms the earth.
We all know that climate evolution has happened in the past, changes have taken place now and that will happen in the future, but what is the opposite of what you and I are doing now is compared with what happened in the past? Could Antarctica be a location without ice anymore?
“(Current climate change) is truly unprecedented, both in terms of speed and extent, compared to the geological events that you know from the past.”
“We are releasing hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere only in several decades. Volcanoes cannot produce the amount of CO2 in such short periods even if it is a large volcano,” Huber said.
Regarding the future, Huber suggested; “I think what you will see in many decades, or perhaps centuries ahead, is what is called the flow of ice that begins to flow faster and can become West Antarctica especially starting to feel degradation.”
“Given the rate of ice flow, you will not see [the whole] the Antarctic deteriorate in the next few decades.”
Glaciologists estimate that once sea level rises, we begin to witness positive feedback where ice can flow faster, and sea levels rise faster, so it goes on. So yes I think the signs are already there. “
Dinosaurs no longer roam Antarctica again, but you can’t rule it out, that Antarctica will be free of ice in the future. And you don’t have the technique to understand how it feels for humans because we have never lived on Earth compilation there is no ice on the pole.