Ice Age Causes

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by kd18027
Last updated 5 years ago

Weather and Climate

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Ice Age Causes

Changes in ocean circulation and heat transport can explain many features of ice age events; model simulations show that some of these changes could have been triggered by instabilities in the ice sheets surrounding the Atlantic at the time of an ice age.

The Growing of Ice SheetsStudies show that on northern continents if the amount of sunshine in the summer drops below a certain value, the snow from the past winter does not melt away in the summer and the ice sheets grow as more snow accumulates. Climate models confirm that an ice age can be started by this process of the growing ice sheets.

Also...the changing in positions of Earth's continents in a certain arrangement can block warm water flow from the equator to the poles and this causes ice sheets to rise and this contributes to forming an ice age.

What exactly causes an ice age?Scientists are not 100% sure of what exactly causes an ice age, but there is strong evidence that the past ice ages are linked to Earth's orbit around the sun and this may have also effected Earth's radiation balance which also would have contributed to the forming of an ice age and glaciation. The Earth's change in tilt of its axis, the change in eccentricity of its orbit, and the change in direction of the axis tilt at a certain point in the orbit (these are called the Milankovitch cycles) are all factors that would effect the balance of incoming solar radiation. An unstable balance of the solar radiation coming into Earth would cause the ice sheets and glaciers to grow.


ByKate Dorilio

What is an ice age?An ice age a period that can be as long as millions to tens of millions of years when global temperatures are cold and continental ice sheets and alpine glaciers cover the Earth over large areas. There have been at least 5 major ice ages throughout Earth's history

CO2Atmospheric carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of ice ages, but it is important to the forming of one. Ice core data from Antarctica shows that the concentration of CO2 was low in cold glacial times and high in warm, interglacial times. Ice age models only provide realistic results if the role of CO2 is accounted for and this shows that it is significant to the forming of an ice age.


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