Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient Rainforests Resilient To Climate Change

Date:
October 1, 2009
Source:
University of Royal Holloway London
Summary:
Climate change wreaked havoc on the Earth's first rainforests but they quickly bounced back, scientists reveal. The findings are based on spectacular discoveries of 300-million-year-old rainforests in coal mines in Illinois, USA.

Earth's first rainforests.
Credit: Courtesy of Mary Parrish (Smithsonian Institution)

Climate change wreaked havoc on the Earth’s first rainforests but they quickly bounced back, scientists reveal. The findings of the research team, led by Dr Howard Falcon-Lang from Royal Holloway, University of London, are based on spectacular discoveries of 300-million-year-old rainforests in coal mines in Illinois, USA.

Preserved over vast areas, these fossilized rainforests in Illinois are the largest of their kind in the world. The rocks at this site - in which the rainforests occur - contain evidence for climate fluctuations. During cold ‘ice ages’, fossils show that the tropics dried out and rainforests were pushed to the brink of extinction. However, rainforests managed to recover and return to their former glory.

Dr Falcon-Lang, from the Department of Earth Sciences, worked with colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution and Illinois Geological Survey. In their paper published in the journal Geology, they show that rainforest species all but vanished at the height of the ice ages. Yet they also reveal that the coal beds that formed shortly after, as the climate warmed, contain abundant rainforest species.

Falcon-Lang said, ‘These discoveries radically change our understanding of the Earth’s first rainforests. We used to think these were stable ecosystems, unchanged for tens of millions of years. Now we know they were incredibly dynamic, constantly buffeted by climate change’.

The research may also shed light on how climate change will affect the Amazon rainforest in the future. Dr Falcon-Lang commented, ‘If we can understand how climate shaped rainforests in the distant past, we can infer how they will respond in the future. We’ve shown that within certain limits, rainforests are resilient to climate change; however, extreme climate change may push rainforests beyond a point of no return’.

The work is part of a five-year project funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and aims to study how climate change affected the Earth’s first rainforests. These ancient rainforests date from the Carboniferous period, 300 million years ago, when most of the world's coal resources were formed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Royal Holloway London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Royal Holloway London. "Ancient Rainforests Resilient To Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930202249.htm>.
University of Royal Holloway London. (2009, October 1). Ancient Rainforests Resilient To Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930202249.htm
University of Royal Holloway London. "Ancient Rainforests Resilient To Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930202249.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) — Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins