24 Nov 2010, 12:35pm
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CLIMATE: South Sound was warmer 5,000 years ago

by Ken A. Schlichte, Letter to the Editor, Tacoma News Tribune, November 22, 2023 [here]

Re: “As world warms, delegates again try talking” (TNT, 11-21).

The last time the world warmed was 120,000 years ago and that warming was 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the article about the United Nations climate conference in Cancun. The author has apparently not read about the Holocene Maximum, the global climatic period from about 10,000 to 5,000 years ago that was 2 degrees Fahrenheit or more warmer than present-day temperatures.

The warmer temperatures of the Holocene Maximum were responsible for replacing forests with prairies on many gravelly and droughty glacial outwash deposits in the South Sound Region. These prairies, including the large prairies on and around Joint Base Lewis-McChord, were then maintained against naturally advancing forests through the thousands of years of cooler temperatures that followed the Holocene Maximum by the Native American prairie- burning activities that ended late in the 1800s.

Prairie vegetation is now gradually being replaced by naturally advancing forest vegetation throughout the South Sound region because of the cooler temperatures since the Holocene Maximum and the lack of Native American prairie-burning activities.

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See also: Glacier melt adds ancient edibles to marine buffet [here]

“Forests that lived along the Gulf of Alaska between 2,500 to 7,000 years ago were subsequently covered by glaciers. The crushed organic matter is being expelled by the glaciers there today.”

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