Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Confirm Historic Massive Flood In Climate Change

Date:
February 28, 2006
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists from NASA and Columbia University, New York, have used computer modeling to successfully reproduce an abrupt climate change that took place 8,200 years ago. At that time, the beginning of the current warm period, climate changes were caused by a massive flood of freshwater into the North Atlantic Ocean.

Circulation patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean. Cold, dense water is shown in blue, flowing south from upper latitudes, while warm, less dense water flows north.
Credit: Jack Cook for Ocean and Climate Change Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Scientists from NASA and Columbia University, New York, have used computer modeling to successfully reproduce an abrupt climate change that took place 8,200 years ago. At that time, the beginning of the current warm period, climate changes were caused by a massive flood of freshwater into the North Atlantic Ocean.

This work is the first to consistently recreate the event by computer modeling, and the first time that the model results have been confirmed by comparison to the climate record, which includes such things as ice core and tree ring data.

"We only have one example of how the climate reacts to changes, the past," said Gavin A. Schmidt, a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, researcher and co-author on the study. "If we're going to accurately simulate the Earth's future, we need to be able to replicate past events. This was a real test of the model's skill."

The study was led by Allegra LeGrande, a graduate student in the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. The results appeared in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (PNAS) in Jan. 2006.

The group used an atmosphere-ocean coupled climate computer model known as "GISS Model E-R" to simulate the climate impact of a massive freshwater flood into the North Atlantic that happened about 8,200 years ago after the end of the last Ice Age. Retreating glaciers opened a route for two ancient meltwater lakes, known as Agassiz and Ojibway, to suddenly and catastrophically drain from the middle of the North American continent.

At approximately the same time, climate records show that the Earth experienced its last abrupt climate shift. Scientists believe that the massive freshwater pulse interfered with the ocean's overturning circulation, which distributes heat around the globe. According to the record of what are known as "climate proxies", average air temperatures apparently fell as much as several degrees in some areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Climate researchers use these proxies, chemical signals locked in minerals and ice bubbles as well as pollen and other biological indicators, as indirect measures of temperature and precipitation patterns in the distant past. Because GISS Model E-R incorporates the response of these proxies in its output, the authors of the PNAS study were able to compare their results directly to the historical record.

The researchers prodded their model with a freshwater flow equal to between 25 and 50 times the flow of the Amazon River in 12 model runs that took more than a year to complete. Although the simulations largely agreed with records from North Atlantic sediment cores and Greenland ice cores, the team's results showed that the flood had much milder effects around the globe than many people thought.

According to the model, temperatures in the North Atlantic and Greenland showed the largest decrease, with slightly less cooling over parts of North America and Europe. The rest of the northern hemisphere, however, showed very little effect, and temperatures in the southern hemisphere remained largely unchanged. Moreover, ocean circulation, which initially dropped by half after simulated flood, appeared to rebound within 50 to 150 years.

"The flood we looked at was even larger than anything that could happen today," said LeGrande. "Still, it's important for us to study because the real thing occurred during a period when conditions were not that much different from the present day."

The GISS climate model is also being used for the latest simulations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to simulate the Earth's present and future climate. "Hopefully, successful simulations of the past such as this will increase confidence in the validity of model projections," said Schmidt.

The study was funded by NASA, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Scientists Confirm Historic Massive Flood In Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060228180303.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2006, February 28). Scientists Confirm Historic Massive Flood In Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060228180303.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Scientists Confirm Historic Massive Flood In Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060228180303.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Using an organic fertiliser, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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