Melting ice sheet 8,000 years ago triggered major climate change event, study finds

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(ORDO NEWS) — The study , carried out by a team of geoscientists from four Yorkshire universities, found that melting ice sheets were likely responsible for a major climate change event that occurred more than 8,000 years ago. The study, led by Dr Graham Rush from the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, analyzed geological samples from Scotland’s Ithan Estuary to gain insight into the possible impact of modern Greenland ice melt on global climate patterns.

The research team found that more than 8,000 years ago, the North Atlantic and northern Europe experienced significant cooling caused by changes in a large system of ocean currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). This change in AMOC has also affected global precipitation patterns. It is believed that the massive influx of fresh water into the saltwater seas of the North Atlantic led to the destruction of the AMOC.

To understand sea level changes during this period, the team took core samples from sediments in the Ythan Estuary. By analyzing microfossils and sediments, they found that changes in sea level were different from normal background fluctuations and reached 13 mm per year, causing the water in the estuary to rise by about 2 m. The analysis also showed that there were at least two main sources of fresh water , flowing into the North Atlantic, contrary to the previously existing belief about a single source.

Many scientists believed that the fresh water came from Lake Agassiz-Ojibway, which flowed into the ocean and was located near what is now northern Ontario, but Dr. Rush and his colleagues suggest that the melting of the Hudson Bay ice saddle that covered much of eastern Canada and northern -eastern United States, provided a huge amount of water reflected in the core samples.

The disruption of ocean currents had significant consequences throughout the world. Temperatures in the North Atlantic and Europe dropped by 1.5 to 5 degrees Celsius and stayed there for about 200 years, while other regions experienced above-average warming. Rainfall increased in Europe, while parts of Africa experienced dry conditions and prolonged periods of drought.

The study provides valuable insight into how the current melting of Greenland’s ice sheets could affect global climate systems. Dr Rush emphasized the importance of the study, saying: “We know that AMOC is currently slowing and, although the issue is still being debated, some projections suggest it may stop altogether.”

This study highlights the interconnectedness of Earth‘s climate systems and the potential impacts of melting ice on a global scale. As we continue to face the challenges of climate change, understanding past events can help inform our actions and mitigate future impacts.


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