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Thread: Mammoth Hunters Changed Climate

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    Senior Member Hamrammr's Avatar
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    Mammoth Hunters Changed Climate

    Anchorage - Ancient hunters who stalked the world's last woolly mammoths likely helped warm the Earth's far northern latitudes thousands of years before humans began burning fossil fuels, according to a study of prehistoric climate change.

    The demise of the leaf-chomping woolly mammoths contributed to a proliferation of dwarf birch trees in and around the Arctic, darkening a largely barren, reflective landscape and accelerating a rise in temperatures across the polar north, researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science concluded.

    The northward march of vegetation affected the climate because of the "albedo effect", in which replacement of white snow and ice with darker land surfaces absorbs more sunlight and creates a self-repeating warming cycle, the study found.

    The end of the last Ice Age, marked by a worldwide rise in temperatures and the dramatic retreat of glaciers that once covered much of the Northern Hemisphere, was already under way when the extinction of woolly mammoths began.

    But the latest findings, scheduled to be published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, suggest human activity played a role in altering Earth's climate long before mankind began burning coal and oil for energy, though the effects of prehistoric hunting were minute by comparison.

    Human impact

    If mammoth hunters helped hasten Arctic warming, that would potentially be the first such human impact on climate, preceding that caused by ancient farmers, Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and a co-author of the study, said on Tuesday.

    With the advent of agriculture about 7 000 years ago at more southern latitudes, humans are believed to have modified the climate through deforestation and cultivation of new plants, he said.

    The earlier climate consequences of declining mammoth populations were extremely subtle.

    The flourishing of plant life as the voracious, vegetarian beasts were disappearing about 15 000 years ago helped warm the Arctic and boreal regions in what is now Siberia and North America by 0.2C over a period of several centuries, though certain spots saw a temperature rise of up to 1C, the study found.

    Ancient human-caused warming was tiny compared to modern-day warming, in which the Earth's temperature has risen about 0.74C since the start of the 20th century, with temperatures rising at least twice as fast in the Arctic, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The research attributes about a fourth of the Arctic's vegetation-driven warming to the decline of the woolly mammoth. If human hunters helped kill off the large mammals, they bear some responsibility for warming the climate, the scientists concluded.

    "We're not saying this was a big effect," Field said. "The point of the paper isn't that this is a big effect. But it's a human effect."

    Evidence

    The study analysed pollen records in sediments of lakes in Alaska, Siberia and Canada's Yukon Territory. Through those records, scientists were able to reconstruct forest growth in what was once woolly mammoth habitat.

    The scientists also analysed behaviour of African elephants, the modern analogue to the woolly mammoth, which knock down trees as they dine on the leaves that they prefer to less-nutritious grasses.

    The Earth already was warming at the time when mammoths were disappearing, but there is evidence that dramatic growth of vegetation in the far North followed the large animals' demise rather than preceded it, Field said.

    "What we tried to do was say how much of the tree increase was due to the extinction of mammoths," he said.

    It was not possible, however, to quantify how much of the extinction was due to human hunting, he said. Whether hunters ultimately pushed mammoths over the brink remains a subject of scientific debate, he said.

    If humans did kill off the mammoths, "I'm sure they didn't have anything but a very local picture of what they were doing," Field said.


    - Reuters

    Link:http://www.news24.com/SciTech/News/M...imate-20100715

    Source: News24

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    Senior Member Ragnar Lodbrok's Avatar
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    The first human impact on the climate and the eco-system...wow and it seemed to be more of a positive one too. We hunted the mammoth so the birch trees wouldn't get eaten up, which normalized and unfroze the ice age.

    Now we're frying the planet and putting the seasons out of wack by putting more and more carbon into the air.
    "What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil." Friedrich Nietzche

    "Virtue - all virtue - is knowledge."
    Socrates

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    Eala Freia Fresena
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    Where more birchtrees growing because the temperature raised or were the temperature raised because of the growing number of birchtrees?

    What should be the alleged connection between birchtrees and temperature raise? What would make the temperature raise because of more birchtrees? The colors? Birchtrees are white and the leaves are light green so they reflect the sunlight whereas a barren dark ground might be holding temperatures much longer and absorbs them much better.

    Seems to be your normal junk science.

    They said the temperature raises because of deforestation, so why would more trees raise temperature than too? Isn't that odd?


    The killing of mammoth in siberia raised the temperature worldwide?

    What did the mammoth die on out? Was it (white) human beings? How can they identify a worldwide raise of temperature on a single small incident in Siberia?

    'The earlier climate consequences of declining mammoth populations were extremely subtle'

    So to identify that 'subtle' consequences as the culprit you should now all other influences. I doubt their model contains all of them.

    It seems more to me that there are different connections like for example the sun who is changing way more quickly and has a way bigger impact. I am almost sure they did not put the sun and its changes into the equation. They would be the first ones who know what the sun was 15.000 years ago.

    I studied prehistory and I have seen the graph of temperatures. The last icetime was around that time but since then the temperature went up and down as always for not only millenia but billenia.

    Seems to be hogwash.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    Senior Member Eburos's Avatar
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    Was it ever declared fact that mankind caused the mammoths extinction?
    This sounds like a bunch of bull!
    I live in a northern mixed deciduous- coniferous forest. Why couldn't the warming of the earth have been caused by the aspen, alder, willow, cottonwood, or poplar trees of the north?

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    Grin

    we are a very destructive people. sometimes I wonder if God gave us too much of his own image for we can dramatically change the world unlike any other species.

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    A new turn in the man made global warming hoax.

    The climate of the Earth has always been changing never staying constant with or without the impact of man. Climate change is just part of nature.

    All gather around they have snake oil (carbon credits) for sale please hurry before their all gone.

    Ever notice that all these scientist already own all these carbon credits. Al Gore is the main one I'm referring to the rest are just jumping on the band wagon.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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