A team of scientists from the Institute for Desert Research has discovered a high concentration of black carbon in the Antarctic Peninsula. Their work, published in the journal Nature, showed that soot appeared on the glacier in the 14th century. She was carried there by the wind from forest fires in New Zealand.
Scientists led by Joseph McConnell, hydrologist and project organizer, analyzed six ice cores, two of which were taken from James Ross Island at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and the rest from the Antarctic continent. The results showed that from the end of the 13th century, the concentration of black carbon on James Ross Island began to increase rapidly. Between 1500-1600, the amount of soot increased by 250% over the pre-Maori average, the first people to inhabit New Zealand. During the same period, black carbon in the central part of Antarctica decreased by 10–35%.
According to radiocarbon analysis on peat, the first Maori arrived on the islands of New Zealand in 1250-1300. They used slash-and-burn farming techniques to clear the space. Researchers rule out the possibility of forest fires, since before the arrival of Europeans, the climate in New Zealand was humid.
“The idea that humans were causing such dramatic changes in atmospheric black carbon at that time is quite amazing,â€� says Joseph McConnell.
Simulation of air currents over the Southern Ocean provided further confirmation that the sources of emissions were in New Zealand. According to him, the fires occurred at the 40th parallel of the south latitude. This allowed scientists to narrow the search, removing Africa and the Australian continent from it.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Romans were the first to pollute the atmosphere by processing lead. As stated in a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, between 350 and 175 BC. NS. the level of heavy metals in the air rose by 10 times and decreased only with the fall of the Roman Empire.