A new study published in Paleoclimatology and Paleoceanography explored Australian climate during the early-to-middle Eocene (55-40 million years ago). The research, led by Dr. Tammo Reichgelt in the Department of Earth Sciences, used plant fossils from southern Australian to reconstruct past temperature and precipitation. Despite the continent of Australia being closer to the South Pole during the Eocene, the researchers found a warmer and wetter climate that could support lush forests. Climate model simulates of the Eocene with 1,680 ppm atmospheric CO2 support the fossil plant-based climate reconstructions. The dramatic changes in vegetation and climate in the high CO2 environment of the Eocene may provide insights into how the Earth system will respond to future warming.