Roughly 670,000 to 800,000 years ago, the Earth slid into an entirely new ice cycle, a change that a new study hypothesizes is the result of warming temperatures.
the study It was published in May in the prominent peer-reviewed scientific journal, nature.
Pleistocene warming occurred in the Late Middle Pleistocene Transition (MPT). The MPT period was the period during which global glacial cycles, which are periods of time during ice ages where glaciers advance on the Earth’s surface, took on a permanent shift.
A group of European researchers analyzed records of upper ocean temperatures and Mediterranean forest cover from a drill core collected off southwestern Iberia.
Drill cores are cylindrical samples taken from either an ice sheet or the Earth’s crust showing layers of ice or sediment arranged chronologically. These records are indices of contemporary and westerly (winds blowing west) precipitation.
The researchers combined these records with additional records of western Pacific surface temperatures and the strength of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM).
Using this data, the researchers were able to create models simulating the climate of the late MPT.
The data showed that during this time, there was an increase in winter precipitation in southwestern Europe as well as an increase in the strength of the summer monsoon in East Asia.
What is the reason for the harsh weather conditions?
These abnormally harsh weather conditions were the consequences of, according to the study, “a nearly continuous supply of moisture from both oceans”—moisture that was transported north through the West.
The researchers suggested that this, in turn, likely fueled the growing ice sheets late in the MPT.
The MPT marks the beginning of a permanent global shift in interglacial periods. Previously, as SciTechDaily reports on the research paper, Earth’s climate was characterized by shorter, weaker glacial periods occurring on cycles of 40,000 years.
After the MPT, however, Earth’s climate took a dramatic turn and switched to 100,000-year glacial cycles, where glacial periods, while rare, were much longer and more intense.
In order to bring about this change, it was necessary for the glaciers to grow from their pre-MPT sizes, a change in size that, as mentioned, was fueled by the increase in moisture from warmer ocean temperatures.
While the elements responsible for the shift in the glacial cycle from 40,000 to 100,000 years ago remain obscure, the “warm” Ice Age was an important factor in this change.
The SciTechDaily report quotes Dr. Andre Barr, assistant professor of earth sciences at the University of Heidelberg, explaining that “such an expansion of continental glaciers was necessary to begin the shift from the 40,000-year cycles to the 100,000-year cycles we see today, which were crucial to the subsequent climatic evolution of the Earth.” “.
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