TechThe end of the Ice Age. This will be the climate ground zero

The end of the Ice Age. This will be the climate ground zero

The Ice Age is coming to an end
The Ice Age is coming to an end
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2:14 PM EDT, October 10, 2023

According to scientists, there are indications that the current Ice Age is ending. The Earth is approaching the climate zero moment. What awaits us and where does this certainty come from?

It's hard to notice on a daily basis, but the climate on Earth is usually some stage of an Ice Age. On a scale of thousands of years, long periods of severe cold are interrupted by brief times of higher temperatures. Considering such a scale, for about 2.5 million years we have been living in the Quaternary Ice Age, to be precise in its declining phase. However, something so unusual is happening in the Earth's atmosphere that it may soon change.

The mystery of high methane levels

Methane is one of the greenhouse gases, and the industrial revolution has caused its level in the Earth's atmosphere to increase significantly. This upward trend subsided at the end of the 20th century, but not for long. As early as 2006, scientists began to observe a resurgence in its level.

The combustion of fossil fuels should not cause this, but human influence cannot be ruled out. A significant source of methane emissions are equatorial wetlands. Global warming has already led to an increase in humidity in this region, and such a microclimate drives the decomposition and production of methane.

However, there is an alternative explanation. Methane in the Earth's atmosphere is not only caused by humans, but also occurs naturally. Its increasing level can be a symptom of a powerful yet natural change in Earth's climate system. According to scientists, the Earth's atmosphere is feeling the end of the Ice Age in this way.

The Ice Age ends with a high level of methane

Wanting to test this hypothesis, scientists from the University of London examined the levels of methane from 2006 to 2022 and compared them with patterns observed during previous ends of glacial periods. It turns out that the level of methane is the same. It's as if the Earth was transitioning from an Ice Age to a warmer, but short, interglacial period.

This option somewhat absolves us from the harm done to the planet, but it does not mean that we should expect a new Ice Age during our lifetime. The predicted end phase of methane may proceed in an unknown way. It's also difficult to predict how long the Earth will be moving towards a warmer climate.

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