Ancient Cold Period Could Predict Future Climate Change

Posted: Sep 2 2015, 12:17pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 2 2015, 3:10pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Ancient Cold Period could Predict Future Climate Change
This is the room in the cave where the scientists obtained the stalagmite used in the research. CREDIT: Raf Rios
  • Old Big Freeze may lend Insight into Future Climatic Trends

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An old big freeze period that took place may lend valuable insight into future climatic trends.

Experts have found that a very cold period that took place some 12,000 years ago may prove valuable in lending us clues into our own future. The sudden climate change towards cold temperatures was more marked in the northern areas.

However, it was less prominent in southern regions. This discovery could prove decisive in increasing our knowledge of the what the future holds in store.

The cold period started when the North Atlantic Current stopped dead in its tracks. The upper loci entered a deep freeze of sorts thanks to these conditions so many years ago. It has been estimated that in Greenland alone, temperatures reached 18 degrees Fahrenheit. And this took less than five years.

Even such normally humid and hot places as the Philippines were affected by the radical change. But whereas Greenland recovered shortly from the flipping of the climatic switch, the Philippines took a long time to get back to normal. And we are talking hundreds of years here.

This example in region and relative temperatures lends us some deep insights into how we will be affected by the future climatology. Regions such as Greenland which have an ice base tend to get on track easily.

But rainfall in the Philippines takes almost forever to return to normal. However, both regions show changes in temperature and rainfall due to one phenomenon alone: the ocean currents.

"We found that the temperature in Greenland is like a small ship that you can stop and turn quickly because of the influence of sea ice in the region, while rainfall in the tropics is like a big ship that takes a long time to course correct," said Jud Partin, a research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) who led the study.

As the Ice Age came to a halt, the glaciers and icebergs melted. This released tons of water around the shores of the land masses thereby changing the climate for better or for worse. The turbulence due to meltdown caused cooling. But the cooling was not the same everywhere.

This evidence lends us a clue or two about our own future. When due to global warming the ice flows in the north and south melt, there will be massive amounts of cold water that will get released into the oceans.

"A slowdown of the ocean circulation is a double-edged sword: If we see some temperature changes associated ... and somehow are quick to act and alleviate the change, then we have the potential to stop it before it impacts rainfall globally," Partin said. "The longer the circulation event lasts means that it will take that much longer for rainfall to recover."

The North Atlantic would be inundated with a deluge. This could spell trouble for the world’s populations in various coastal cities. The disaster would be on a large scale. Rainfall in the Philippines caused the stalagmites in a particular cave to develop over a series of years.

Studying these have increased the knowledge and know-how of scientists. Our own future remains precarious thanks to our interventionist policies with regard to Mother Nature.

"Sea ice around Greenland acts as a 'switch,' causing that region to respond more quickly than the rest of the planet does by insulating the air from heat stored in the deep ocean," said Yuko Okumura, a UTIG research associate and a co-author on the study.

This study published today in Nature Communications.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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