Warming over the past 10 thousand years was associated with an increase in forest area

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(ORDO NEWS) — Climatologists from the United States have found that the increase in average annual temperatures in the last ten thousand years was primarily associated with an increase in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bforests and other forms of vegetation.

This was announced on Friday by the press service of Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) with reference to an article in the journal Science Advances.

“Our calculations and measurements show that the expansion of the area of ​​forests and other vegetation increased the average annual temperatures on Earth by about 0.8 degrees Celsius during the entire Holocene epoch.

This suggests that the growth of forests in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth was the cause of the abnormally rapid increase in temperatures in the last 10 thousand years,” said WUSTL researcher Alexander Thompson, quoted by the university’s press service.

The last ice age began about 2.6 million years ago. Its main characteristic feature – the area of ​​glaciation and the temperature of the Earth’s surface throughout its length were not constant.

Glaciers advanced and retreated every few tens of thousands of years as a result of sharp cooling and warming. The Holocene, the current “thaw”, began about 13,000 years ago and continues to this day.

Scientists, as Thompson notes, have long been interested in what controlled temperature fluctuations after the onset of this “thaw” and what role various natural, anthropogenic and cosmic factors play in these processes, including how the face of the Earth changes during warming and cooling climates. .

Plants and climate

To answer these questions, American researchers created a detailed climate model that reproduced the influence of all these factors.

In addition, the scientists studied various fossil paleoclimatic indicators, including fossilized plant pollen grains, whose abundance and species composition directly reflect the temperatures and climate of the area where they grew.

The study of these indicators and computer calculations unexpectedly showed that the area of ​​forests and other forms of vegetation was one of the most significant factors that influenced the rise in temperatures during the Holocene.

This was due to the fact that warming increased the area of ​​\u200b\u200bforests, whose appearance, in turn, increased the amount of heat that was absorbed by the regions of the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere freed from ice.

As a result, average annual temperatures increased further, which accelerated the advance of forests to the north and stimulated the growth of vegetation in other regions of the planet.

This self-sustaining process, according to Thompson and his colleagues, has led to a warming of the entire planet by 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past ten thousand years.

Such a strong influence of vegetation on the climate, as the researchers note, makes it possible to explain why temperatures on Earth grew during the Holocene much faster than classical climate models predict, which do not take into account the contribution of flora to climate fluctuations.

This must be taken into account when predicting global warming, summed up Thompson and his colleagues.


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