Thursday, December 03, 2009

New research shows transition to Ice Age/abrupt shift in climate can take a few months, or a year or two at most.

"That the climate system can turn on and off that quickly is extremely important," said earth system scientist Henry Mullins at Syracuse University, who did not take part in this research. "Once the tipping point is reached, there would be essentially no opportunity for humans to react."

SHOOT: Global warming leads to melting of Greenland ice sheets, disrupts conveyor belt of warm water, leading to Northern Hemisphere turning cold very quickly.
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In the film, "The Day After Tomorrow," the world gets gripped in ice within the span of just a few weeks. Now research now suggests an eerily similar event might indeed have occurred in the past.

Looking ahead to the future, there is no reason why such a freeze shouldn't happen again - and in ironic fashion it could be precipitated if ongoing changes in climate force the Greenland ice sheet to suddenly melt, scientists say.

Starting roughly 12,800 years ago, the Northern Hemisphere was gripped by a chill that lasted some 1,300 years. Known by scientists as the Younger Dryas and nicknamed the "Big Freeze,"
geological evidence suggests it was brought on when a vast pulse of fresh water - a greater volume than all of North America's Great Lakes combined - poured into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

"If the Greenland ice sheet melted suddenly it would be catastrophic," he said.

"We could say that global warming could lead to a dramatic cooling," Patterson told LiveScience.
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