Are Greenhouse Gas Emissions Delaying the Start of an Ice Age?
Mankind's emissions of fossil carbon and the resulting increase in temperature could prove to be our salvation from the next ice age.
According to new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, the current increase in the extent of peatland is having the opposite effect.
"We are probably entering a new ice age right now. However, we're not noticing it due to the effects of carbon dioxide", says researcher Professor Lars Franzén.
Looking back over the past three million years, the earth has experienced at least 30 periods of ice age, known as ice age pulses. The periods in between are called interglacials.
The researchers believe that the Little Ice Age of the 16th to 18th centuries may have been halted as a result of human activity. Increased felling of woodlands and growing areas of agricultural land, combined with the early stages of industrialisation, resulted in increased emissions of carbon dioxide which probably slowed down, or even reversed, the cooling trend.
"It is certainly possible that mankind's various activities contributed towards extending our ice age interval by keeping carbon dioxide levels high enough," explains Lars Franzén, Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Gothenburg.
"Without the human impact, the inevitable progression towards an ice age would have continued. The spread of peatlands is an important factor."
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Read more at ENN Affiliate, ClickGreen.