Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global warming could lead to fast freeze, warns University of Ulster scientist

26.05.2004


Dramatic climate change as a result of global warming could happen in a single lifetime – instead of being a slow process evolving over centuries, according to a University of Ulster academic.



Professor Marshall McCabe of the School of Environmental Sciences said that given the right set of circumstances, “a climate can flip in a lifetime”. And the result could be the return of Arctic conditions last seen in the British Isles thousands of years ago.

He said that the North Atlantic ocean, which controls our climate, is very sensitive to change.


For example, a substantial intrusion of fresh water into the North Atlantic from melting ice-caps may trigger rapid changes that could put the UK and Ireland into the deep freeze for centuries.

Professor McCabe, who is Professor of Quaternary Science at the University of Ulster, has found evidence of just such an event 19,000 years ago.

At that time, several ice sheets in the northern hemisphere melted, adding a five metre ‘cap’ of fresh water to the North Atlantic ocean.

In normal circumstances the ocean overturns constantly. Heat is drawn off from water at the top of the ocean which then sinks and flows south beneath the equator. New, warmer water is drawn northwards.

It is this cycle that gives the British Isles their temperate climate, despite being on the same latitude as Alaska.

But after the icesheets melted into the north Atlantic 19,000 years ago, the fresh water ‘cap’ was lighter than the salt water, and remained on the surface. This suppressed the normal circulation of deep water flowing south beneath the equator – leading to the return of Arctic conditions to Ireland.

Professor McCabe’s research, published in the prestigious journal Science, showed:

There was a rapid rise in the sea level around 19,000 years ago at Kilkeel, Co Down, due to the collapse of ice sheets in the northern hemisphere.

He was able to accurately date this sea level rise by carbon-dating forams, pinhead-sized organisms found on the sea. His research involved testing around 20,000 forams per sample.

The fresh water ‘cap’ suppressed the circulation of warm surface water from the south to the north Atlantic oceans - leading to thousands of years of Arctic conditions in Ireland and Great Britain.

Professor McCabe said: “Heat is pulled from the tropics to the north. We are on roughly the same latitude as Alaska and if it were not for the circulation of water between the north and south Atlantic oceans we would be frozen.

“But that could happen if the climate was to flip, through increased freshwater in the North Atlantic - as happened 19,000 years ago”.

David Young | University of Ulster
Further information:
http://www.ulster.ac.uk/news/releases/2004/1186.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Could a particle accelerator using laser-driven implosion become a reality?

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

24.05.2018 | Health and Medicine

Complementing conventional antibiotics

24.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>