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The next ice age

Discussion in 'Earth and Environmental Science' started by kai_uk, 18 Nov 2013.

  1. kai_uk

    kai_uk Member Geek

    Some scientists say the next ice age is on the way, some say it is over due, but others say it will be seriously delayed or canceled because of global warming. Our CO2 emissions are effectively saving us all from building igloos and living next to penguins.

    Are all these people just scaremongering or are we statistically overdue for the next ice age?
     
  2. MyDigitalpoint

    MyDigitalpoint Active Geek

    Location:
    Virtual World
    I believe the next Ice Age is closer than we think. Nonetheless "closer" could be still several hundred of years in the future no matter that the global warming is notorious, but the whole process will not happen from one day to another, at least not within this century... I think.
     
  3. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    As the sun has been quite calm recently we could have just missed the start of one. It is quite likely global warming has stopped us going into an ice age. Which also means the cooler sun period has slowed down the effects of our warming. Which all means when the sun gets back to full strength our temperature could run away!

    Or maybe not... but what if..


    :eek:
     
  4. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    If you looked at long term graphs of past ice ages, you could see that we were due one. However, high CO2 levels will keep it away. There's a research called Ruddiman, who thinks that the spread of agriculture also played it part in stopping the ice age from restarting.
     
    amusicsite likes this.
  5. pipps

    pipps Regular Geek

    Noooo, I don't want an ice age. Especially not in the UK, our weather is so rubbish. When you say an ice age is overdue? How overdue do you mean? Years? Weeks? Days!?
     
  6. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    [​IMG]

    I would say we were pretty much due. CO2 levels peak and then start to fall. Temperatures rise and fall with CO2 concentrations. I don't know at which temperature or CO2 concentration and ice age starts, but it looks like inter-glacials last between 10,000 and 20,000 years from this graph. The current interglacial is about 12,000 years. Look at the interesting pattern at the right hand edge of the lower graph. It didn't peak like in the previous inter-glacials. It started to flatten out a bit. Maybe this is the effect of human agriculture that Ruddiman writes about. Also notice that previous CO2 peaks were less than 300 parts per million. They are now about 400 ppm.
     
  7. pipps

    pipps Regular Geek

    Thanks for sharing this, it's so interesting and a bit scary. If there was an ice age now do you think it would be as previous ice ages? I'm not exactly sure how bad there are though. Can cattle survive outside and other things like that?
     
  8. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    I remember reading the ice sheet came down to the Thames in the last ice age. So much water was locked up in the ice sheets that Britain was attached to the continent and the Mediterranean was dry. Still, I think the trend is for it to get steadily colder over hundreds of years at the start of the ice age, but for it to warm up suddenly at the end. So, if an ice did start, you would find life progressively difficult, and your children would probably move south. I don't think there is much chance of an ice age starting right now, because the CO2 levels are so high. There was concern that all the fresh water melting off the Arctic ice sheet would stop the North Atlantic Drift, which is what keeps Britain and western Europe inhabitable. If you look at other places in the world at the same latitude as London, they are icy wastelands like Newfoundland and Siberia. The border between Canada and the USA is further south than Great Britain, but you tend to think of Canada as a cold country. iirc, the effect of the polar ice caps melting and interfering with the thermohaline circulation is not enough to stop the North Atlantic Drift flowing, although it might slow it down a bit over time. It does not seem to be something climate scientists are very concerned about right now.
     
  9. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    [​IMG]

    Apparently it was something like this.
     
  10. pipps

    pipps Regular Geek

    Wow, it's so fascinating. I would be moving very far south if it happened. All the way to Aussie Land I think haha :) So all the ice would be the light blue bits? That's crazy! I can't imagine the UK being attached by ice to the med!
     
  11. sidevalve

    sidevalve Well-Known Geek

    Not sure australia would be so good. As the northern ice sheets move south then the southern ice sheets would move north.
     
    amusicsite likes this.
  12. pipps

    pipps Regular Geek

    Oh no, there goes my safe place! haha. Where will be safe and warm then? Will anywhere be safe a warm?
     
  13. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Equator :wink: