The more you know

Is the Earth in danger of a new ice age?

It is the alarm of a group of Chicago scientists who link the probability to the increase of ice in Antarctica

An increase in sea ice in Antarctica could trigger the next ice age. This is the warning issued by a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, who conducted a series of computer simulations. Their conclusions suggest that, if sea ice accumulates in Antarctica, some sort of ocean lid will form, blocking the exchange of carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. This would cause a kind of “reverse” greenhouse effect, which would eventually cool the Earth and send our planet into a new ice age after the last one that occurred over two million years ago, during the Pleistocene era.

How does it work

American scientists have been studying the processes that led to the ice ages in the past for years. They found that gas exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere would play an important role. From computer simulations, researchers found that sea ice in Antarctica not only changes ocean circulation, but acts as a plug, blocking the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: the less CO2 in the air, the colder the planet becomes. . “When the temperature drops, less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, which causes more cooling,” confirms one of the researchers on the American team.

These conclusions coincide with past climatic evidence, such as sediments, coral reefs and “ancient” ice samples. The relative “good” news is that the trend seems to indicate that a major ice loss is taking place in Antarctica, as well as in the Arctic, rather than the other way around.

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