Antarctica still bears traces of air pollution by Maori

Maori are often called the original inhabitants of New Zealand, the fact is that they also did not live there for a very long time. only at 13from In the last century, their ancestors reached the ocean archipelago – presumably they came from Polynesia.

The first Māori were not few, and it now appears from research conducted by Americans this week in temper nature figured out. The researchers concluded this not from archaeological finds, but from the air pollution that accompanied the spread of Maori over New Zealand. After all, atmospheric scientists found particles of soot in the ice cores of Antarctica, which indicates a strong increase in emissions of these pollutants from the year 1300 onwards. Today, soot is mainly released when fossil fuels such as coal are burned, but the substance is also largely released during wildfires.

According to the researchers, the soot tracks on the Antarctic point in the direction of the first Maori. at the beginning of 14from A century ago they must have started with widespread forest burning in New Zealand. Partly because of this, forests still cover a quarter of the combined area of ​​the North and South Island. Before the arrival of the Maori, the proportion was 85 percent.

New Zealand’s forest burning peaked at 16from century, can be deduced from traces of soot in the ice of Antarctica. This would have included an annual emission of 36,000 tons. This made the Maori Islands by far the largest air polluter in the region, in the pre-industrial era when it was often thought that humans had little impact on the Earth’s atmosphere. The research is reminiscent of the discovery of historical lead contamination in Greenland ice, a legacy of Roman mineralogy.

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Of course, the soot from the Antarctic wildfires isn’t just over. It also fell in the South Pacific and Antarctica, where pollutants may have greatly boosted algal blooms. For example, the Maoris influenced not only the composition of the air for miles around, but also marine life thousands of miles from New Zealand.

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