”The climate 60 000 years ago was cooler than today, but the vigorous melting of large ice masses in America and the Antarctic gave a chain reaction all the way to the Barents Region,” Eiliv Larsen, a geologist at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), tells us.
He says that scientists have always known that large natural variations in climate took place during glaciation periods, both between separate ice ages and within each individual ice age. Now the Earth is faced with an additional challenge; global warming caused by man.
”The ice in the Barents Sea began to float and break up in response to the rising sea level 60 000 years ago. It became thinner and rapidly melted completely. Enormous volumes of meltwater poured into the sea, and large glacial lakes were drained. The huge quantities of freshwater had a great influence on the circulation in the oceans and on the climate,” Eiliv Larsen says.
Eiliv Larsen is one of Norway’s foremost researchers on ice-age history and climate variability. Among other things, he is now in charge of the SciencePub project, which, during the International Polar Year, will be studying the natural variations in climate and the environment in the Arctic during the last 130 000 years. Researchers will also be examining how mankind succeeded in adapting to these changes.
Enormous ice masses
When the glaciers had their greatest extent during the last Ice Age, the vast ice sheet had its western limit on Andøya in north-western Norway. The ice stretched some 1500 kilometres southwards to Hamburg, northwards right up to the Arctic Ocean, and the eastern limit was far away in Russia. The enormous, up to 3000-metre-thick ice sheet, covered both land and sea. So much water was bound up in the ice that the oceans stood 120-130 metres lower than today.
”The incredible changes in the physical natural environment during the last glacial period are a result of natural climatic changes on the Earth. Ice ages have come and gone with ordered regularity caused by variations in the solar radiation reaching the Earth,” Eiliv Larsen emphasises.
Now that the Earth is also encountering human impacts on the climate, it is no longer just a matter of small, cyclic changes in the Earth’s orbit round the Sun, its angle of inclination and the slow rotation of the Earth’s axis. Mankind has created great uncertainties in the dynamic natural variations in climate.
”But what does this really mean?”
”In the long term, the natural trend is towards a colder climate, but we will scarcely encounter a real ice age before some 50 000 years hence,” Eiliv Larsen believes. “We now live in a period with a limited extent of ice. The exceptions are Greenland and the Antarctic, where there is almost as much ice as during the glacial period. Glaciers are, nevertheless, retreating now in response to the warmer climate. Global warming brought about by man may continue for many centuries, until all the fossil fuels have been used up. Norwegian glaciers are obviously at risk in this perspective,” Eiliv Larsen says.
By Gudmund Løvø
Eiliv Larsen | alfa
New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences