Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. 

 

Peter Diamandis

We narrowly missed a new ice age, and now we won’t see one for a very long time

RATE THIS! +31
Posted in Science on 13th Jan, 2016 10:40 PM by AlexMuller

Recorded human history has played out within one type of climate, an interglacial period. During the glacial periods of the last million years (commonly referred to as “ice ages”), great ice sheets grew to cover Canada and some points south, as well as Northern Europe and much of Russia.

 
In the 1970s, we learned there was a consistent 100,000-year heartbeat to this back-and-forth cycle governed by subtle patterns in Earth’s orbit. The thing is, it’s about time for the next heartbeat. We’re at the part of the cycle where the interglacial period should be wrapping up and the slow but inexorable descent into another ice age would begin.
 
But that hasn’t happened, and it’s not going to any time soon. Our current breakneck emissions of greenhouse gases will see to that. Still, the scientific question is worth asking: what, exactly, does it take to start off an ice age?
 
We are currently at a low point in summer sunlight reaching the northern high latitude region, which is how the orbital cycles turn into glacial cycles. Because there are several orbital cycles involved, the peaks and valleys in that sunlight are complex, it’s not as simple as a sine wave oscillating between a constant high and a constant low.
 
It’s possible humans were responsible for higher CO2 concentrations even before the industrial revolution. There’s a debate among climate scientists about whether the advent of agriculture and deforestation had a significant impact thousands of years ago, forestalling the beginning of an ice age as a result.
 
Whether or not humans were responsible for CO2 being slightly too high, there’s another interesting implication. With CO2 at 280 parts per million, the next opportunity to cross into an ice age is about 50,000 years away in the models. That would make the present interglacial period longer than any in the last million years.
 
That is, however, somewhat academic given our current massive-scale experiment with the climate system. To investigate more relevant scenarios, the researchers ran simulations of three futures: one in which we basically stop emitting CO2 now, one in which we emit double what we have so far, and one where we triple it. (If we do nothing to reduce emissions, we’ll hit quadruple by the year 2100.) In the low-emissions scenario, we skip any real ice sheet growth for at least 50,000 years.
 
In the high-emissions scenario, there’s basically no chance of dropping into any kind of ice age within the next 100,000 years, which was as long as the simulations ran. That’s because it takes a very long time for CO2 concentrations to naturally decline.
 
Most of these conclusions have been reached by one or another study in the past, but the sunlight/CO2 relationship that sets the ice age threshold is new, and shows how close we came in the last few millennia. Since people are often naturally curious about the future of the ice age cycle, the reality bears repeating: we broke it.

Tags: iceice ageclimateclimate changegreenhouse gasnatureenvironmentglobal warming

Read original article » Back to category

Comments



 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Medicine on 2017-11-21 09:01:15
    High Incidence of PTSD Among Cancer Patients..read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-11-21 08:56:02
    Human Memory Enhanced With a Brain Implant For the First.....read more
    Posted in Hardware on 2017-11-21 08:51:13
    MIT Reveals a Battery That Stores Solar Energy to Make.....read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-11-21 08:45:29
    Japan discovers new 50km cave in moon, raises hope for.....read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-11-20 17:24:02
    The 3 biggest threats to your Bitcoin (and 10 tips to.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Martian landscapes formed from sand 'levitating' on a little.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Scientists detect comets outside our solar system..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Advanced artificial limbs mapped in the brain..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Bacteria have a sense of touch..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Recurrent brain cancer: New hope with phase 1 clinical trial.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me