Global warming could result in northern Europe growing colder as the southern hemisphere gets hotter, according to new research led by the University of Edinburgh. A study, based on analysis of changing climate patterns at the end of the last ice age, confounds the widely-held view that global warming will be uniform across the world. It also suggests that ice age conditions could return to the northern hemisphere sooner than was previously thought.
The research, which claims that the north Atlantics relatively warm waters could cool at the same time as the colder Southern Ocean heats up, appears in the Swedish journal Geografiska Annaler. The study is significant because it suggests that major shifts in global climate are influenced not just by atmospheric conditions, but also by fluctuations in ocean currents. The researchers say that a complex climatic seesaw effect – last triggered when the post-Ice Age earth heated thousands of years ago – could be set off again in our present warming world.
The research team spent 14 years analysing radiocarbon and isotope samples from Patagonia – the most southerly land mass outside of Antarctica – to build an accurate picture of glacier changes there during the past 25,000 years ago. When they compared their results with existing data which mapped north Atlantic glacier changes over the same time period, the scientists reached a striking conclusion. They found that during times of major climate change, glaciers in Patagonia expanded as those in the north shrank, and vice versa.
Rebecca Wray | alfa
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