Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global Warming Could Trigger Cascade Of Climatic Changes

Date:
March 14, 2003
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
Global warming and the partial melting of polar ice sheets can dramatically affect not only sea levels but also Earth's climate, in ways that may be complex, rapid and difficult to adjust to, scientists say in a new study to be published Friday in the journal Science.

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Global warming and the partial melting of polar ice sheets can dramatically affect not only sea levels but also Earth's climate, in ways that may be complex, rapid and difficult to adjust to, scientists say in a new study to be published Friday in the journal Science.

Sea level and climatic changes in Earth's distant past, near the end of the last Ice Age about 14,600 years ago, offer significant clues to some phenomena that Earth may experience in the near future, possibly in coming decades or centuries, the study found.

The research was done by scientists at the University of Victoria, Oregon State University, and the University of Toronto. It revealed changes in global temperature, sea level and ocean currents that can occur with surprising rapidity.

"With the advent of global warming, we're trying to identify the climatic surprises that may be in store for us, the events that we really aren't expecting," said Peter Clark, a professor of geosciences at OSU and a co-author of the study. "The more we look at this, the more it appears there have been large and abrupt changes in climate and sea level that are interconnected. If these changes were to happen in the future, they could cause huge societal disruptions."

About a year ago, Clark and his colleagues outlined in a publication in Nature how one of the unanticipated outcomes of global warming could be disruption of a "thermohaline circulation" pattern in currents of the North Atlantic Ocean, robbing Europe of the influence of warm ocean currents and causing widespread cooling. This could happen when additional rainfall or melting glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere inject more fresh water into the North Atlantic and make the ocean less salty.

Scientists now believe this current may have slowed or stopped altogether many times in Earth's past. The shutdown of this current was one prominent feature of the last Ice Age.

In the new study, the researchers found that an Antarctic melting event called "Meltwater Pulse 1A," which occurred near the end of the last Ice Age about 14,600 years ago, raised Earth's sea levels about 70 feet in less than 500 years. The melting event simultaneously caused the North Atlantic circulation to turn on, causing widespread warming of the Northern Hemisphere.

The melting event occurred following a time of increasing temperature, sea level and carbon dioxide that had some similarities - and key differences - to the present day, Clark said.

"These past events provide important clues as to how the climate system may change as the Earth warms," Clark said.

"Global warming might cause a shutdown of currents in the North Atlantic and cause Europe to cool," he said. "But just as people are trying to adjust to that event, the same warming might also help melt an Antarctic ice sheet which would tend to start the current in the North Atlantic moving again. And that might be considered a good thing, unless you live in a coastal area which is now going to be flooded by rising sea levels."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Global Warming Could Trigger Cascade Of Climatic Changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030314071607.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2003, March 14). Global Warming Could Trigger Cascade Of Climatic Changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030314071607.htm
Oregon State University. "Global Warming Could Trigger Cascade Of Climatic Changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030314071607.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins