How Long Will it Be Until the Next Ice Age?

environment, science

As far as Ice Ages go, there are few in history that have made headlines and garnered quite the fear and respect of the scientific community.

verucchio view
verucchio view (click here for original source image)

There was an Ice Age in the distant past and it took many years for the results of that study to be uncovered. Now, with modern tools and a better understanding of how the Earth works we can be better prepared for the next Ice Age. Ice Age science is just getting off the ground and you might want to join in the fun.

In the last Ice Age there was a period known as the “Ice Age” because the whole planet was frozen solid except for the polar areas. Most of the land masses experienced ice growth and that led to a massive thaw which created a huge migration of mammoths and other large creatures. This caused a massive die-off of large numbers of marine organisms which were then devoured by the larger land-based animals. The massive meltdown of the ice sheets triggered a new Ice Age and things did not return to normal until after the next Ice Age.

Ice sheets do play a major role in global climate change. They act as giant stores of greenhouse gases waiting to melt and release their contents into the atmosphere. As we know, at any given time there are billions of tons of ice floating around the world which makes a significant contribution to global warming. A good part of the Ice Age predictions revolves around melting ice sheets. We may not see an ice age though, as the Earth’s temperature will bounce back before the next Ice Age is upon us.

How long will it be before we see ice sheets on the surface of the seas? That question remains to be answered and we may never know. One thing is for sure though. As the Earth’s temperatures rise and the seas start to freeze again, large icebergs will emerge from the sub-tropical climates and plunge to the seas where they will become a place of ice and snow. Ice sheets tend to move slowly but can eventually block the warm currents of the oceans.

One thing we do know about ice sheets is that they move very slowly. It took millions of years for the ice on the Arctic Ocean to form. It took even longer for the ice on the other ocean basins to form. It will take even longer for the other polar bodies of water to freeze over completely. Therefore, sometime between now and 20000 years the ice will not be anywhere near as thick as it is today.

This also refers to the time scale in which sea levels rise again. This time scale is not very long, and it can take as much as 200 years or so for sea levels to go back to their previous values. This is primarily due to the fact that most of the world is locked into permanently warm temperature states. In addition, the melt-water from the ice sheets will slowly raise sea levels due to increased evaporation and precipitation.

It is a very interesting question and one that scientists have been studying for decades. It is a sobering thought that the Ice Age may be upon us. How long will it be before the first major ice-free season takes place is unknown. If sea levels continue to rise, it will be impossible for most areas to experience any sort of normalcy. Some regions will have to deal with drastic climate changes, and others will simply never experience warm temperatures again.

One thing that is for certain is that global warming, climate changes, and ice sheet melt-up are all real things to evaluate. What we can do is to make preparations for all eventualities, and prepare ourselves for drastic changes. How long will it be before we have to deal with all of this?

The answer could be anything from as little as 50 years to as much as two centuries. No one really knows, so it is prudent to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Ice Age Debate

thinking on a mountain
thinking on a mountain (click here for original source image)

Ever since the last Ice Age ended around 12 CE, the scientists have been trying to solve the Ice Age debate. Ice Ages is known for their time periods when there was not a summer, nor a cold climate in the northern regions. The first Ice Age in Europe lasted from around 1350 to 1450 years, while the second Ice Age was believed to end around 1650 years before. Although there are many theories on how these Ice Ages started, there is no hard evidence one way or another.

Over the years, a variety of different theories have been proposed as to how the Ice Age ended. A few of the most prominent scientific theories include the comet hypothesis, the sun-spot theory, the transit theory, and the wobble theory. Each of these different theories attempt to explain how the Ice Age ended. All have strong support among the scientific community, but none have been able to provide solid evidence beyond a grain of doubt that they are correct.

Comet theory. This theory states that Comet debris would impact the Earth and its moon, causing massive amounts of global heating which would turn the planet ice cold. Because the size of the comet caught was limited by the Solar System, the impact would have occurred near a region of high gravity. Geologists believe that this led to massive thawing of the northern polar ice age, which could account for some of the stone tools found in archaeological digs.

The next Ice Age theory is the sun-spot theory. This one centers on the idea that the Sun warms the Earth’s temperature so much that it causes an ice age to start. Since the ice age did not happen for 100 years, geologists believe that it must have happened much faster. According to this astronomical theory, the ice age ended after the Earth was hit with enormous solar radiation. The radiation came from the Sun, and the geologists argue that it produced sufficient heat to melt the surface of the Earth.

The warming of the Earth also meant that huge amounts of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere, upsetting the balance between sunlight and moisture. This caused the development of deserts and vegetation, the rise of ice masses and the extinction of large animals. The atmosphere has been studied using different techniques, such as remote sensing of the clouds, studying the distribution of ozone layer thickness, and tracking the changes of greenhouse gas. These studies have shown that the climate system is sensitive to changes in solar radiation, clouds, and rainfall. In fact, global warming is currently one of the hottest topics of discussion all over the world. Studies show that global warming has become a major problem for the future existence of human beings.

Other theories include wobble theories and the continental drift. The continental drift refers to a period when continents pushed apart, thus changing the face of the earth. Other wobble theories propose that there are seasonal climate cycles, which are interchanged every century. The wobble theories have been studied with the help of satellites, but to date they remain controversial. Remote sensing of clouds also shows a drastic change in cloud cover patterns, which has been explained by the theory of global warming.

A variety of natural phenomena such as the eruption of Mt. Eros in Greece, or the Great Glacier in Alaska can also be used to support the argument of global warming. Although the evidence available so far suggests that the ice age did cause substantial changes in the climate system, it is difficult to say for sure. Some climate scientists believe that the demise of the Ice Age caused a shift in the Earth’s temperature, which was similar to the current global warming. Scientists cannot explain why exactly the Ice Age ended, but the main hypothesis is that massive amounts of greenhouse gases released in the air caused the precipitation to decrease.

Another natural phenomenon believed to be caused by natural climate fluctuations is the greening of the earth. Greenhouse gases caused by human activities are believed to cause the variations in the earth’s temperature. Although there is still a great deal of uncertainty in this area, there is considerable agreement among climatologists that there is a link between major changes in the earth’s climate and the variations in its temperature.

Provided by Antonio Westley


Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.



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