Ancient underwater forest predicts a grim future, scientists say

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A 60,000-year-old underwater forest which was recently discovered off the coast of Alabama is hiding a terrifying message about our future, scientists have warned.

The Cypress woodland is submerged 60 feet under the Gulf of Mexico and looks a bit like a coral reef, providing a home to sea turtles, spider crabs, sharks and a myriad of fish.

It may be teeming with life but its existence reveals how the land we call home could one day disappear beneath the waves.

After the devastating Hurricane Ivan in 2004, commercial trawlers began to notice that a prime fishing spot had popped up along the Alabama coast.

A diver decided to check out what was going on and found an underwater world with what looked like a prehistoric riverbed running along the sand – and trees rising out of the stream.

“It looked like someone had taken a modern day Cypress forest and plopped it down on the bottom,” explained environmental journalist Ben Raines.

Raines has just published a YouTube documentary The Underwater Forest, in which he follows scientists as they try to figure out how – and why – the ancient spot has lay hidden for so long.

After excavating bark from the seabed, researchers found the trees must be between 50,000 and 60,000 years old.

It was then they realized the underwater forest nine miles off the current coastline had once been at sea level and vanished under rising waters during an Ice Age.

Ice sheets grow for about 90,000 years and then take about 10,000 years to collapse during warmer periods, before repeating the cycle.

We are currently due an ice age, experts have claimed.

But thanks to the amount of carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere, scientists reckon we’ve delayed one by another 10,000 years.

But Martin Becker, a paleontologist from New Jersey’s William Paterson University, warned that future civilizations might find their sea-view apartments underwater.

Discussing the towns living off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, he said: “Predicting the future may be an unpleasant one.

“It may happen in five, it may happen in ten, it may not happen in my lifetime – but it’s certainly going to happen.”



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