How an Ice Age paradox could inform sea level rise predictions
New findings from the University of Michigan explain an Ice Age paradox and add to the mounting evidence that climate change could bring higher seas than most models predict.
The study, published in Nature, shows how small spikes in the temperature of the ocean, rather than the air, likely drove the rapid disintegration cycles of the expansive ice sheet that once covered much of North America.
The behavior of this ancient ice sheet—called Laurentide—has puzzled scientists for decades because its periods of melting and splintering into the sea occurred at the coldest times in the last Ice Age. Ice should melt when the weather is warm, but that's not what happened.
"We've shown that we don't really need atmospheric warming to trigger large-scale disintegration events if the ocean warms up and starts tickling the edges of the ice sheets," said Jeremy Bassis, U-M associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering. "It is possible that modern-day glaciers, not just the parts that are floating but the parts that are just touching the ocean, are more sensitive to ocean warming than we previously thought."
Continue reading at University of Michigan
Image via University of Michigan