Ancient cold period gives new insight into future

Washington, Sep 2 (IANS) A well known period of abrupt climate change 12,000 years ago that occurred rapidly in northern latitudes but much more gradually in equatorial regions holds the key for future climate change, researchers have discovered.

The research focuses on the Younger Dryas – a cooling period that started when the North Atlantic Current (an ocean current) stopped circulating.

The event that inspired the premise of the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow”, caused Earth’s northern hemisphere to enter into a deep chill.

The temperatures in Greenland dropped by approximately -7 degrees Celsius in less than a decade.

The event also caused rainfall to decrease in places as far away as the Philippines.

However, whereas temperatures in Greenland responded quickly to the ocean current shutdown and subsequent reboot 1,000 years later, it took hundreds of years for rainfall in the Philippines to be affected and to recover.

We found that the temperature in Greenland is like a small ship that you can stop and turn quickly because of the influence of sea ice in the region, while rainfall in the tropics is like a big ship that takes a long time to course correct,” explained Jud Partin, research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) who led the study.

The discovery could prove important for understanding and responding to future climate change.

Although other studies well document the changes in temperature and precipitation around the world, this new study concludes that these changes do not occur or recover at the same rate, as had been previously assumed.

The paper was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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