New Discoveries from the 2010 Wilkes Land Expedition

Recently, scientists from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany published a paper in Nature magazine revealing that they found fossilized pollen grains of palms and other tropical trees in core samples taken from offshore the east coast of Antarctica! The cores were collected a little more than two years ago during Expedition 318 (Wilkes Land Glacial History). Samples used by the researchers date back to about 52 million years ago during the early Eocene epoch, a time when greenhouse conditions were in effect and Antarctica was mainly ice-free with nearly tropical temperatures.
In light of recent news coverage on the Nature paper, I decided to return to Dr. Stephen Pekar’s blog, which he kept up during the voyage to Wilkes Land. In this particular entry, he explains why the JOIDES Resolution braved rough waters and extreme conditions to collect seafloor samples from Antarctica.
The work of the Expedition 318 team and the Goethe researchers will help us to further understand what Earth may look like under warmer conditions. Check out BBC’s news coverage for more.