Saturday August 12, 2017
Massive ice sheets weirdly warmed us up
more stories from this episode
- Puppies that get tough love succeed as guide dogs
- Massive ice sheets weirdly warmed us up
- Mass grave from ancient Athens could be executed rebels
- This armoured and spiky dinosaur still had to hide from predators
- A super-supernova could happen in our neighborhood
- Lab weed is weak and it's a research problem
- Why does scar tissue persist when cells renew?
- Full Episode
Under ordinary circumstances the Earth cycles between ice ages and warm periods about every hundred thousand years. We're currently in one of the warm periods now.
A new study, lead by Mark Torres, makes the surprising suggestion that the glaciers that grow during cold periods actually tend to drive warming.
During ice ages, glaciers wear down and dissolve rock. This speeds up chemical reactions with the dissoved minerals in the rock that release carbon stored in rocks and in the ocean into the the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. That CO2 then leads to warming.
Then as the glaciers melt, the carbon release stops, and the climate cools again and a new ice age begins.