An ancient vegetative and fauna ecosystem discovery in northernmost Greenland reveals how substantially warmer polar climates were when CO2 levels were said to be much lower than today.
Reconstruction of the Kap København Formation ecosystem 2 million years ago. Image credit: Beth Zaiken. Source: Sci.News
The northern coasts of Greenland are today a barren polar desert. Existing moisture is frozen into permanent ice sheets at these latitudes, precluding plant growth.
But two million years ago, when CO2 levels were claimed to only hover around 300 ppm, an 11-19°C warmer-than-today north Greenland (82°N) had no ice sheet coverage and instead was teeming with vegetation (shrubs, herbs), as well as birch, poplar, and thuja forests (Kjaer et al., 2022).
Megafaunal browsers such as mastadons (elephants) had access to abundant food sources (berries, twigs, leaves, etc.). Caribou and reindeer grazers, hare, and rodents thrived in the green landscape. Geese soared in the High Arctic skies.
Sea coasts near northern Greenland had green algae, coral reefs, and dugong – marine animals cousin to the manatee. Horseshoe crabs that today cannot spawn in waters any colder than 45°N (southern France) were able to occupy the much warmer-than-today Arctic waters at 82°N.
The annual sea surface temperatures (SSTs) at these Arctic latitudes have been estimated to be 8°C during this time, which is slightly warmer than the annual SSTs in New York’s Hudson Bay today (Galbraith and Larouche, 2011).
Interestingly, human beings were also living in China two million years ago (Zhu et al., 2018). For now, climate alarmists and activists have yet to blame these ancient humans for the much warmer temperatures facilitating these rich High Arctic ecosystems.