Global warming increased the diversity of ancient tropical rain forests

Global warming increased the diversity of ancient tropical rain forests
01/02/2011 | Elhuyar

Most scientists have predicted that as carbon dioxide levels increase and the Earth heats up, the plant diversity of rainforests will decrease. However, according to researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, in the past, the climate warmed up very quickly at a given time, with new plant species created in the jungle being more abundant than those that had been endangered.

56.3 million years ago, the so-called Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Summit, the Earth warmed between 3 and 5 degrees, reaching double the amount of carbon dioxide in a period of 10,000 years. These extraordinary conditions lasted 200,000 years. The study of fossilized pollen grains in Colombian and Venezuelan forests has shown that, although at that time some plant species disappeared, many more new species emerged.

On the other hand, scientists consider that the conclusions of the research should be taken with caution. Someone might conclude that current climate change could also report benefits to rainforests. However, the potential positive effects could be disused, for example, if temperatures rose too quickly, as plants would not be able to adapt to the new situation. In addition, water scarcity could be critical, as at the Thermal Summit there was no lack of water, but current forecasts suggest that it might not be so in the future.

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