Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Greenhouse gases will postpone next ice age

The increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide is a main factor behind the ongoing climate change issue. According to a recent study published in a journal Nature Geoscience the increased amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will also postpone the coming of next ice age on Earth.

The scientists estimate that so far there have been at least five ice ages in Earth's past. Term ice age refers to a certain period characterized by a long-term reduction in the earth's surface and atmospheric temperature, which represents ideal conditions for the growth of ice sheets and glaciers.

Our planet is currently in so called interglacial period which started 10,000-15,000 years ago. The end of this period and new ice age are expected in around 1,500 years time, if atmospheric concentrations of main greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide (CO2), do not exceed 240 parts per million by volume (ppmv).

The current concentrations of CO2 are somewhere around 390 ppmv, and keeping that level of CO2 emissions or increasing it will postpone the coming of new ice age.

While the fact that the next ice age will be postponed looks like good news, everything else about climate change and global warming looks negative.

The scientists say we should limit the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius in order to avoid major climate change threats such as extreme weather events and sea level rise. However, world is doing very little to achieve this goal because fossil fuels are still being heavily used all across the globe, and there also seems to be no chance for any meaningful climate change agreement in near future.

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