Approximately 800,000 years ago something changed in the Earth’s climate system that led to the climate then following a series of approximately 100,000 year cycles. Small, predictable changes in the Earth’s orbit about the Sun act as triggers for the glacial and interglacial periods, but other factors such as ice sheet volume, CO2 concentration, and biological feedback mechanisms are also involved.Read more.
A seminal book by Milankovitch in 1941 proposed that the sequence of ice ages that has characterized long term changes in the Earth’s climate over the past hundreds of thousands of years was due to changes in the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth as a result of small variations in the Earth’s orientation and orbit with respect to the sun. Since then research has shown that Milankovitch cycles by themselves do not determine the timing of glacial and interglacial cycles and that we still lack a unified mechanism that links changes in Earth’s orbit to ice ages.
Marine cores collected in the western tropical Pacific were used to compare the chronology of Southern Ocean warming near Antarctica and rising CO2 during the last deglaciation. The results provide evidence that the Southern Ocean off Antarctica warmed by ~2°C between 19,000 and 17,000 years before the present, about 1,000 years before the rise in atmospheric CO2.
This study reports measurements from ocean floor sediments that provide the first direct evidence that not only do variations in the primary North/South Atlantic current correlate with periods of rapid warming and slower cooling in the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age, but that the changes in the Atlantic overturning current occurred before and likely initiated these warming/cooling cycles.
Geospatial analysis reveals 20% of northern permafrost region susceptible to abrupt permafrost thawing
Northern permafrost soils represent the largest terrestrial organic carbon pool on Earth. A study the northern circumpolar permafrost zones reveals that landscapes susceptible to abrupt thawing with the release of significant quantities of carbon dioxide and methane cover 20% of the northern permafrost region and store up to half its soil organic carbon.
In contrast to West Antarctica where several large glaciers have been losing ice for decades, East Antarctica glaciers have exhibited little evidence of ice loss but NASA’s latest detailed maps of East Antarctica ice velocity and elevation show that a number of glaciers have begun to lose ice over the past decade.
Between 2005 and 2017 the U.S. economy as measured by real GDP expanded by about 20 %. Over this same period, emissions from power generation dropped which is evidence of a decoupling between economic growth and power generation.