Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Disaster Flick Exaggerates Speed Of Ice Age

Date:
May 13, 2004
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
The cataclysmic ice age scenario depicted in the upcoming movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," gets the mechanics of global warming mostly right, but wildly exaggerates the speed at which it might occur, says a Duke University oceanographer who studies North Atlantic ocean currents.

The cataclysmic ice age scenario depicted in the upcoming movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," gets the mechanics of global warming mostly right, but wildly exaggerates the speed at which it might occur, says a Duke University oceanographer who studies North Atlantic ocean currents.

The type of global climate change that happens in the movie -- where global warming diverts warm ocean currents and plunges the world abruptly into a new ice age -- could possibly happen in real life, "but it would take many, many decades or even a century or more," said Susan Lozier, the Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor of Earth and Oceans Sciences at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.

"Hollywood time is not, obviously, the same as geological time," Lozier said.

Lozier is a principal investigator in a five-year, National Science Foundation-funded study of the circulation pathways of North Atlantic currents, and has published findings from her work in Science, the Journal of Physical Oceanography and other leading journals.

Despite its inaccuracies, Lozier thinks "The Day After Tomorrow," slated to open May 28, may prove beneficial to the policy debate about global warming by raising public awareness of the oceans' role in climate and climate change.

"When people think about global warming, they think about the whole world getting warmer due to greenhouse gases. They may not realize that some parts will get warmer and some will get colder, some will get wetter and some will get drier, due in part to changes in ocean currents," Lozier said.

The oceans store a tremendous amount of heat from the sun, and their currents act like a giant conveyor belt, redistributing that heat around the globe, she explained. The Gulf Stream, for example, carries tropical warmth far into the North Atlantic, giving western Europe a mild, moist climate despite its northerly latitude.

Current paths are driven by the prevailing winds and density differences that exist between cold and warm water, and salty and fresh water. Alter any of these factors, Lozier said, and a current's path will change, altering over time the climate of lands in or near its path.

Her research -- including a paper in the January 2004 issue of Geophysical Research Letters that documents the warming and salinification of Mediterranean waters -- has identified subtle changes taking place in North Atlantic waters over the past 50 years. Waters at high latitudes, such as in the subpolar regions, are becoming colder, less salty and slightly less dense, while waters at low latitudes, such as those nearer the equator, are growing warmer, saltier and slightly denser.

"If this continues, it could, in theory, disrupt the circulation of North Atlantic currents and cause them to slow or eventually shut down," Lozier said. "Earth goes in and out of ice ages, and this is a process that continues today. Only it doesn't happen anywhere nearly as suddenly as it does in the movie. That's pretty far-fetched. It's like saying someone can run the mile in less than a second."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Disaster Flick Exaggerates Speed Of Ice Age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040512044611.htm>.
Duke University. (2004, May 13). Disaster Flick Exaggerates Speed Of Ice Age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040512044611.htm
Duke University. "Disaster Flick Exaggerates Speed Of Ice Age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040512044611.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
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