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Read science articles on the ice age, glaciation and climatology. Discover the connection between ice ages and global warming.
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Using the Earth’s noise to see beneath the Greenland ice sheet

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 13:21
The noise created by the Earth's movements has been used to build up a detailed picture of the geological conditions beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet and the impact on ice flow, in new research.  The team studied Rayleigh waves -- seismic waves generated by movements such as earthquakes -- to produce high-resolution images of the rocks underneath the ice sheet, helping to identify which areas are most susceptible to faster ice flow.  It will give us a better understanding of the processes that contribute to accelerated ice discharge into the ocean and the consequent sea level rise.

Winter is coming: Researchers uncover the surprising cause of the little ice age

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 13:20
New research provides a novel answer to one of the persistent questions in historical climatology, environmental history and the earth sciences: what caused the Little Ice Age? The answer, we now know, is a paradox: warming.

Greenland’s nutrients changing, with global impact

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 12:27
Scientists have discovered the availability of carbon in Greenland's waters is shifting poleward and appearing earlier than in previous decades. This finding will enhance understanding of carbon cycling and nutrient availability in this rapidly warming and changing environment.

Study of Antarctic ice’s deep past shows it could be more vulnerable to warming

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 10:33
Insights into how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet responded to a warmer climate millions of years ago could improve predictions of its future.

Meltwater influences ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean

Wed, 12/15/2021 - 07:20
In the summer months, sea ice from the Arctic drifts through Fram Strait into the Atlantic. Thanks to meltwater, a stable layer forms around the drifting ice atop the salty seawater, producing significant effects on biological processes and marine organisms.

Melting sea ice forces polar bears to travel farther for food

Tue, 12/14/2021 - 07:45
In recent years, polar bears in the Beaufort Sea have had to travel far outside of their traditional arctic hunting grounds which has contributed to an almost 30% decrease in their population. The bears' home range, or the amount of space they need for food and other resources, was around 64% larger from 1999-2016 than it was in 1986-1998, according to a recent study.

Climate change record in clam shells

Mon, 12/13/2021 - 11:19
The tiny, pale surf clam about the size of a fingernail that most people have seen and collected on beaches around the world holds clues in its shell to Earth's past. For the first time, researchers have been able to identify the monthly, and even weekly, ocean temperatures recorded in these smooth clam shells. Because ancient civilizations consumed these ubiquitous clams and left the shells at archeological sites, researchers now have a new way to reconstruct climate and its fluctuations from nearly 3,000 years ago.

Size doesn’t matter: Rock composition determines how deadly a meteorite impact is

Mon, 12/13/2021 - 11:18
A new study has found that the minerology of the rocks that a meteorite hits, rather than the size of the impact, determines how deadly an impact it will have.

River animals just go with the flow

Fri, 12/10/2021 - 09:31
Interesting floodplain dynamics were observed during and after seasonal flooding in northern Japan. The combination of the natural flow patterns of rivers and the complex geomorphology of the floodplain supported diverse aquatic biota there. Intensive fieldwork and a 2019 flood-recession survey yielded data in flow dynamics, water chemistry, and animal responses in the floodplain.The team's findings reveal that seasonal changes cause extensive floods as well as the expansion and contraction of river channels. The observed spatial and temporal changes to aquatic habitats give rise to distinct responses and adaptations by a diverse range of animals.

Study shows critical need to reduce use of road salt in winter, suggests best practices

Thu, 12/09/2021 - 11:45
Across the U.S. road crews dump around 25 million metric tons of sodium chloride -- much like table salt -- to unfreeze roads each year and make them safe for travel.

Fire hastens permafrost collapse in Arctic Alaska

Thu, 12/09/2021 - 11:42
While climate change is the primary driver of permafrost degradation in Arctic Alaska, a new analysis of 70 years of data reveals that tundra fires are accelerating that decline, contributing disproportionately to a phenomenon known as 'thermokarst,' the abrupt collapse of ice-rich permafrost as a result of thawing.

Reduced ocean circulation during the ice age caused anoxic conditions and increased carbon storage in the deep sea

Wed, 12/08/2021 - 11:34
The movement of water masses in the ocean, its circulation, is an essential component of the global climate system. Researchers have now been able to show that circulation in the deep ocean was significantly slowed down during the last glacial period. Analyses of sediment samples show that the decomposition of organic carbon in the water masses of the deep sea consumed the oxygen available there.

Melting glaciers may produce thousands of kilometers of new Pacific salmon habitat

Tue, 12/07/2021 - 14:26
Retreating glaciers in the Pacific mountains of western North America could produce around 6,150 kilometers of new Pacific salmon habitat by the year 2100, according to a new study.

Denisovans or Homo sapiens: Who were the first to settle (permanently) on the Tibetan Plateau?

Tue, 12/07/2021 - 14:25
A new paper by archaeologists at the University of California, Davis, highlights that our extinct cousins, the Denisovans, reached the "roof of the world" about 160,000 years ago -- 120,000 years earlier than previous estimates for our species -- and even contributed to our adaptation to high altitude.

How does the climate crisis affect the Antarctic fur seal?

Thu, 12/02/2021 - 10:34
The climate crisis is limiting the availability of krill -- small crustaceans that are vital in the marine food chain -- during summer in some areas of the Antarctica. This involves a decrease in the food abundance for female Antarctic fur seals in summer and a decrease in their reproductive success. Moreover, the predation of pups by the leopard seal has also increased due to a lower abundance of penguins, the main prey of this voracious Antarctic predator. However, the impact of the climate crisis on the Antarctic fur seal in winter has been ignored to date, when the cold, wind and ice make it harder to study the Antarctic ecosystems.

Volcanic fertilization of the oceans drove severe mass extinction

Thu, 12/02/2021 - 10:32
Scientists have discovered that two intense spells of volcanic activity triggered a period of global cooling and falling oxygen levels in the oceans, which caused one of the most severe mass extinctions in Earth history - the 'Late Ordovician Mass Extinction', 450 million years ago.

When variations in Earth's orbit drive biological evolution

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 10:19
Coccolithophores are microscopic algae that form tiny limestone plates, called coccoliths, around their single cells. They are responsible for half of the limestone produced in the oceans and therefore play a major role in the carbon cycle and in determining ocean chemistry. A team of scientists show that certain variations in Earth's orbit have influenced the evolution of coccolithophores.

Arctic Ocean started getting warmer decades earlier than we thought

Wed, 11/24/2021 - 14:38
The Arctic Ocean has been getting warmer since the beginning of the 20th century -- decades earlier than records suggest -- due to warmer water flowing into the delicate polar ecosystem from the Atlantic Ocean.

Tectonic shift in Southern Ocean caused dramatic ancient cooling event

Tue, 11/23/2021 - 15:27
New research has shed light on a sudden cooling event 34 million years ago, which contributed to formation of the Antarctic ice sheets.

Antarctic ice-sheet destabilized within a decade

Thu, 11/18/2021 - 19:37
After the natural warming that followed the last Ice Age, there were repeated periods when masses of icebergs broke off from Antarctica into the Southern Ocean. A new data-model study now shows that it took only a decade to initiate this tipping point in the climate system, and that ice mass loss then continued for many centuries.