Researchers from Cardiff University have revealed how sea ice has been contributing to the waxing and waning of ice sheets over the last million years.
In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, the team have shown for the first time that ice ages, occurring every 100,000 years, are accompanied by a rapid build-up of sea ice in the Earth’s oceans.
Our planet’s ice ages used to occur at intervals of every 40,000 years, which made sense to scientists as the Earth’s seasons vary in a predictable way, with colder summers occurring at these intervals. However there was a point, about a million years ago, called the ‘Mid-Pleistocene transition’, in which the ice age intervals changed from every 40,000 years to every 100,000 years.
The reason why ice ages occur at these timescales has been a mystery to scientists for a long time.
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