According to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures, parts of the ancient continent were as warm as California’s coast today.
The new measurements could help to improve climate models used for predicting future climate, as well as help scientists to better understand Antarctica’s past.
The findings were published the week of April 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Today Antarctica is consistently one of the coldest places on Earth, but it wasn’t always that way.
The average annual South Pacific sea temperature near Antarctica is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), a far cry from the milder climate of ancient times.
“By measuring past temperatures in different parts of Antarctica, this study gives us a clearer perspective of just how warm Antarctica was when the Earth’s atmosphere contained much more CO2 than it does today,” researchers told Science Daily. The continent remained warm even after the extinction of the dinosaurs, an era known as the Eocene (40-50 million years ago).
And remarkably, forests were still there as early as 12 million years ago. It’s hard to imagine, but Antarctica was ice-free and full of lush forests.
In 1938, the Third Reich claimed New Swabia in Antarctica. The vessel called “Schwabenland” just before the outbreak of WWII, headed into western Antarctica.
This was done under the auspices of “securing Germany’s whaling industry.”
This seemed feasible, given the fact that much could be manufactured from whales including nitroglycerin, margarine, and mechanical lubricants.
It was, however, their goal to build a massive subterranean base there for operations named “base 211″, but the war broke out and not much else information has been released on the subject.
Karl Donitz (1891–1980) had led the German U-Boat fleet from the 31st January 1943 until the end of World War II. He also has the distinction of briefly becoming head of the German state for 20 days after Hitler’s supposed death until his own capture by the Allies on 23rd May 1945.
His contribution to the mystery of post-war Antarctic activity came in a statement he made in 1943 when he declared that the German submarine fleet had rebuilt “in another part of the world a Shangri-La land – an impregnable fortress.”
Could he have been referring to the alleged base in Antarctica? Certainly there are records of continued German naval activity in the area after the war had apparently ended.