Cardiff University via ScienceDaily:
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UK researchers have unearthed ancient fossil forests, thought to be partly responsible for one of the most dramatic shifts in Earth’s climate in the past 400 million years.
The fossil forests, with tree stumps preserved in place, were found in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago situated in the Arctic Ocean. They were identified and described by Dr Chris Berry of Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Science.
Prof John Marshall, of Southampton University, has accurately dated the forests to 380 million years.
The forests grew near the equator during the late Devonian period, and could provide an insight into the cause of a 15-fold reduction in levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere around that time.
Current theories suggest that during the Devonian period (420-360 million years ago) there was a huge drop in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, thought to be largely caused by a change in vegetation from diminutive plants to the first large forest trees.