Next ice age not likely for 1 500 years

2012-01-09 19:31

London - High levels of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere mean the next ice age is unlikely to begin for at least 1 500 years, an article in the journal Nature Geoscience said on Monday.

Concentrations of the main gases blamed for global warming reached record levels in 2010 and will linger in the atmosphere for decades even if the world stopped pumping out emissions today, according to the UN's weather agency.

An ice age is a period when there is a long-term reduction in the earth's surface and atmospheric temperature, which leads to the growth of ice sheets and glaciers.

There have been at least five ice ages on earth. During ice ages there are cycles of glaciation with ice sheets both advancing and retreating.

Officially, the earth has been in an interglacial, or warmer period, for the last 10 000 to 15 000 years, and estimates vary on how long such periods last.

"[Analysis] suggests that the end of the current interglacial [period] would occur within the next 1 500 years, if atmospheric CO2 concentrations do not exceed [around] 240 parts per million by volume (ppmv)," the study said.

However, the current carbon dioxide concentration is of 390 ppmv, and at that level an increase in the volume of ice sheets would not be possible, it added.

The study based on variations in the earth's orbit and rock samples was conducted by academics at Cambridge University, University College London, the University of Florida and Norway's University of Bergen.

The causes of ice ages are not fully understood but concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, changes in the earth's orbit around the sun, and the movement of tectonic plates are all thought to contribute.

The world is forecast to grow hotter as greenhouse gases continue to rise, increasing threats such as extreme weather events and sea level rise.

Scientists have warned that global temperature rise should be limited to within 2°C to avoid the worst effects of climate change but delays in curbing emissions growth are putting the planet at risk.

Read more on:    nature geoscience  |  climate change

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.