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Friday, November 14, 2008

Next Massive Ice Age Postponed by CO2?

The extent of the last glacial ice sheet across parts of North America.

A computer model used by Thomas Crowley of the University of Edinburgh and William Hyde from the University of Toronto predicts that the next ice age between 10,000 and 100,000 years from now will be more severe and extensive than any seen in millions of years, with permanent ice covering much of Canada, Europe and Asia with ice, but Crowley believes that when you factor in current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, that predicted ice age could actually be postponed or prevented.

Though this extreme ice age would be unusual, so is the climate that people are creating by emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gases, Crowley said in the National Geographic article.

"Current greenhouse gas concentrations are probably similar to those that occurred three million years ago and are high enough to prevent an ice age for hundreds of thousands of years," said Lorraine Lisieck, a prehistoric climate expert from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

As is the case with many scientific studies that project far out into the future, Lisieck states that many more tests are needed to see if the study's prediction seems correct.

The study also notes that temperature swings during and between these ice ages have become more extreme, and that trend is expected to continue.

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