November 16, 2010

Tropical Rainforests and Climate Change

By David Tyler
November 13, 2010

Abstract: Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3 [deg] to 5[deg]C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.

Read the entire article here.

See also:

Milton, J. Rapid warming boosted ancient rainforest, Nature News, 11 November 2010 doi:10.1038/news.2010.604