facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Study: CO2 drop drove Antarctic ice birth

Dec. 1, 2011 at 7:51 PM   |   Comments

| License Photo
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A drop in carbon dioxide was the driving force behind the Antarctic ice sheet's formation, one of the biggest climate events in Earth's history, scientists say.

Researchers at Purdue and Yale universities said the role of the greenhouse gas in the Antarctic shows carbon dioxide's importance in past climate change and points to CO2 as a significant force in present and future climate.

The team identified a threshold for low levels of carbon dioxide below which an ice sheet forms in the South Pole, but how much the greenhouse gas must increase before the ice sheet melts is still a mystery, they said in a release Thursday.

"The evidence falls in line with what we would expect if carbon dioxide is the main dial that governs global climate; if we crank it up or down there are dramatic changes," Matthew Huber, a Purdue professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, said. "We went from a warm world without ice to a cooler world with an ice sheet overnight, in geologic terms, because of fluctuations in carbon dioxide levels."

During a span of 100,000 years at the end of the Eocene epoch, temperatures fell dramatically, many species of animals became extinct, ice covered Antarctica and sea levels fell, researchers said.

"The onset of Antarctic ice is the mother of all climate 'tipping points,'" Yale geochemist Mark Pagani said. "Recognizing the primary role carbon dioxide change played in altering global climate is a fundamentally important observation."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Wisconsin shuts down three wolf hunting zones, two remain open Wisconsin shuts down three wolf hunting zones, two remain open
2
Harvard scientist startled by giant bird-eating spider on rainforest walk Harvard scientist startled by giant bird-eating spider on rainforest walk
3
Earth's magnetic field may soon flip, according to new data Earth's magnetic field may soon flip, according to new data
4
Three Mars probes hide behind planet, avoid comet debris Three Mars probes hide behind planet, avoid comet debris
5
Japanese man who 3D printed guns sentenced to two years in prison Japanese man who 3D printed guns sentenced to two years in prison
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback