Unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are disrupting normal patterns of glaciation, according to a study co-authored by a University of Florida researcher and published online Jan. 8 in Nature Geoscience.
The Earth’s current warm period that began about 11,000 years ago should give way to another ice age within about 1,500 years, according to accepted astronomical models.
However, current levels of carbon dioxide are trapping too much heat in the atmosphere to allow the Earth to cool as it has in its prehistoric past in response to changes in Earth’s orbital pattern. The research team, a collaboration among University College London, University of Cambridge and UF, said their data indicate that the next ice age will likely be delayed by tens of thousands of years.
That may sound like good news, but it probably isn’t, said Jim Channell, distinguished professor of geology at UF and co-author.
“Ice sheets like those in western Antarctica are already The furutrdestabilized by global warming,” said Channell. “When they eventually slough off and become a part of the ocean’s volume, it will have a dramatic effect on sea level.” Ice sheets will continue to melt until the next phase of cooling begins in earnest. … (TerraDaily)