Paleontologists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have used past climate records to demonstrate that South American rain forests flourished during past global warming events, the institute has announced.
Using 6,000 measurements of ancient temperature data derived from fossil shells and bacteria biomarkers, scientists have shown that diversity in rain forests increases as they grow. Some scientists believe that the increased diversity might be explained by forests expanding into more temperate climates.
Researchers sampled data from the mid-Cretaceous period 120 million years ago where yearly temperatures rose by 5 to 7 degrees Celsius in South America and the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum 55 million years ago where temperatures rose by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius as possible models for future warming.
Image: South American rainforest (Credit: Fae, Creative Commons)