Volume 580 Issue 7801, 2 April 2020

Polar opposite

The cover shows an artist’s impression of the temperate rainforest that existed in West Antarctica some 90 million years ago. The mid-Cretaceous period basked in some of the warmest temperatures of the past 140 million years and there has been much debate over whether polar ice could exist at such elevated temperatures. In this week’s issue, Johann Klages and his colleagues present their analysis of a sedimentary sequence from the West Antarctic shelf and show that a temperate rainforest-like ecosystem existed in West Antarctica during the Turonian–Santonian age (92 million to 83 million years ago). The cored sediments feature a 3-metre-long network of fossil roots embedded in a mudstone matrix bearing diverse pollen and spores. A climate model to reconstruct the climate for the forest suggests that Antarctica would have been free of ice and that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was 1,120–1,680 parts per million, much more than the 407 parts per million of today.

Cover image: Alfred Wegener Institute/J. McKay, CC-BY 4.0

This Week

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Amendments & Corrections

  • Author Correction |

    • Rita Cabrita
    • , Martin Lauss
    • , Adriana Sanna
    • , Marco Donia
    • , Mathilde Skaarup Larsen
    • , Shamik Mitra
    • , Iva Johansson
    • , Bengt Phung
    • , Katja Harbst
    • , Johan Vallon-Christersson
    • , Alison van Schoiack
    • , Kristina Lövgren
    • , Sarah Warren
    • , Karin Jirström
    • , Håkan Olsson
    • , Kristian Pietras
    • , Christian Ingvar
    • , Karolin Isaksson
    • , Dirk Schadendorf
    • , Henrik Schmidt
    • , Lars Bastholt
    • , Ana Carneiro
    • , Jennifer A. Wargo
    • , Inge Marie Svane
    •  & Göran Jönsson
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