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 International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>