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Unravelling the Mystery of Ice Ages Using Ancient Molecules


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.

Continue reading at Cardiff University

Image via Cardiff University