Human-made climate change may be suppressing the next ice age (Update)

January 13, 2016, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Satellite image of ship tracks, clouds created by the exhaust of ship smokestacks. Image: NASA

Humanity has become a geological force capable of suppressing the beginning of the next ice age, according to a study published in the journal Nature. Cracking the code of glacial inception, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found that the relation of insolation and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere explains the last eight glacial cycles in Earth history. At the same time, their results illustrate that even moderate human interference with the planet's natural carbon balance might postpone the next glacial inception by 100,000 years.

"Even without man-made climate change, we would expect the beginning of a new ice age no earlier than in 50,000 years from now—which makes the Holocene as the present geological epoch an unusually long period between ice ages," explains lead author Andrey Ganopolski. "However, our study also shows that relatively moderate additional anthropogenic CO2 emissions from burning oil, coal and gas are already sufficient to postpone the next ice age for another 50,000 years. The bottom line is that we are basically skipping a whole glacial cycle, which is unprecedented. It is mind-boggling that humankind is able to interfere with a mechanism that shaped the world as we know it."

For the first time, research can explain the onset of past eight ice ages by quantifying several key factors that preceded the formation of each glacial cycle. "Our results indicate a unique functional relationship between summer insolation and atmospheric CO2 for the beginning of a large-scale ice-sheet growth which does not only explain the past, but also enables us to anticipate future periods when glacial inception might occur again," Ganopolski says.

Humanity as a geological force

Using an elaborate Earth system model simulating atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets and global carbon cycle at the same time, the scientists analyzed the effects of further human-made CO2 emissions on the ice volume on the Northern Hemisphere. "Due to the extremely long life-time of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere, past and future emissions have a significant impact on the timing of the next glacial inception," co-author Ricarda Winkelmann says. "Our analysis shows that even small additional carbon emissions will most likely affect the evolution of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets over tens of thousands of years, and moderate future anthropogenic CO2 emissions of 1000 to 1500 gigatons of carbon are likely to postpone the next ice age by at least 100,000 years."

The quest for the drivers of glacial cycles remains one of the most fascinating questions of Earth system analysis and especially paleoclimatology, the study of climate change throughout the entire history of our planet. Usually, the beginning of a new ice age is marked by periods of very low solar radiation in the summer, similar to current conditions. However, at present, there is no evidence for the beginning of a new ice age. "This is the motivation for our study. Unravelling the mystery of the mechanisms that drove past also facilitates our ability to predict the next glacial inception," Winkelmann says.

"Like no other force on the planet, ice ages have shaped the global environment and thereby determined the development of human civilization. For instance, we owe our fertile soil to the last that also carved out today's landscapes, leaving glaciers and rivers behind, forming fjords, moraines and lakes. However, today it is humankind with its emissions from burning fossil fuels that determines the future development of the planet," co-author and PIK-Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber says. "This illustrates very clearly that we have entered a new era, and that in the Anthropocene, humanity itself has become a geological force. In fact, an epoch could be ushered in which might be dubbed the Deglacial."

Explore further: Melting of massive ice 'lid' resulted in huge release of CO2 at the end of the ice age

More information: A. Ganopolski et al. Critical insolation–CO2 relation for diagnosing past and future glacial inception, Nature (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nature16494

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Scroofinator
1.8 / 5 (15) Jan 13, 2016
Even without man-made climate change we would expect the beginning of a new ice age no earlier than in 50.000 years from now

This seems silly considering the interglacial periods average about 20k years, at least for the past 500k years.
LariAnn
2 / 5 (12) Jan 13, 2016
If this study is truly descriptive of past and present reality, it has to be a good thing for humankind. Given that we adapt to a warmer world, an extra 100,000 years of human development without the extreme stress of an ice age cannot be anything but a boon to humanity in the long term.
Scroofinator
2.1 / 5 (17) Jan 13, 2016
Usually, the beginning of a new ice age is marked by periods of very low solar radiation in the summer, like at current times


I like how the article contradicts the premise of the study with this sentence, but to try and save it comes back with:

However, at present there is no evidence for the beginning of a new ice age

Really? How about the declining NAO, or the increase of ice at the poles?
http://www.forbes...ba0432da
"Now, in May 2015, the updated NASA data show polar sea ice is approximately 5 percent above the post-1979 average."
Wadenoth
1.9 / 5 (11) Jan 13, 2016
Do we really understand the dynamics of glacial / interglacial transitions? I doubt it.

Climate models are fitted, some would say over-fitted to the data. This is a classic way of fooling ourselves into believing we understand something. I think it is more likely that the water cycle is the key to understanding these dynamics; a catastrophic drying out process that makes the atmosphere more transparent and precipitates glaciation. If so, we are contributing to this process on a massive scale.

But then these guys can say what they like as long as they get it past the peer review process. None of us is going to be around to see whether they were right.
FritzVonDago
1.7 / 5 (12) Jan 13, 2016
Another HOGWASH government grant study!
Steve 200mph Cruiz
4.2 / 5 (21) Jan 13, 2016
Scoofinator
Elephants don't turn into mammoths in 20k years, and your other comment is a bunch of crap, the arctic is in ruins, just because in May it was nice doesn't mean anything. Theres a large scale ecosystem collapse happening if you look into any studies looking at animals in the artic, while plants are doing good.
Lariann
Humans evolved on a plethora of different habitats, I cant think of any civilization based on Savannah that is doing good, we killed all the native Americans and Africa is a dump.
But disregarding your basic premise, we are completely dependent on ecosystems that have evolved specifically for historical climates, heating the world kills them, and we die vicariously, even if we can wear shorts
Wadenoth
No we do understand glacial cycles, and climate models are super computer simulations where scientists, programmers, and mathematicians cram code of every mathematically describable variable we can think of. That means it only fits the data when it's right
nuncestbibendum
2.5 / 5 (11) Jan 13, 2016
This sounds like the climate science crowd buying an insurance. I do believe that human activity is affecting the climate, and I do believe that we should wean ourselves off fossil fuels. But I also think that climate science is at the level that the natural sciences in general were prior to Newton, and that climate scientists waste no opportunity to blow things out of proportion.
ForFreeMinds
1.4 / 5 (11) Jan 13, 2016
According to the new dual dynamo model of the Sun, we're likely to have a new Mauder Minimum, with sun output falling 60%: http://phys.org/n...mo.html.

Maybe now we can quit taking people's money via force to fund global warming research to reduce our theorized impact on raising the climate's temperature. I'd say we might need to do what we can to get temperatures up in 15 years.
Scroofinator
2.1 / 5 (13) Jan 13, 2016
Whoa slow down with that pitchfork there Steve, I agree with what your saying. The climate is changing. We are poisoning the earth.

The thing your missing is that these phases happen, we have temperature records that show we eventually end up in an ice age. Interglacials are not the norm, something eventually pushes us into a cold phase.

Ya the ice sheets are thinning, but they are actually gaining surface area. This means icebergs are more likely, and when big chunks break off they destabilize the ice sheet. They also cool the oceans, and slow the oceanic currents. Now we also know they have the potential to release copious amounts of GHGs.
http://phys.org/n...ful.html
A combo of colder oceans, less heat transfer, and lower solar activity would be a pretty icy combo.

So no, humans are not causing the changing climate, but we are affecting it. Like the study says, it looks like we have delayed the next ice age.

antigoracle
1.5 / 5 (10) Jan 14, 2016
Waiting for False "Profit" Al to inform the Chicken Littles that their grand-grand-grand.........grand children will never know what an ice-age is.
Scroofinator
1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 14, 2016
On balance we are losing ice - hence the increase in ocean levels

That's the thing though, we aren't losing ice. Look at the historical data, it has been pretty steady, with the exception of 2012 arctic season, since we have began keeping records. Even after that the ice levels rebounded to historical averages.
http://nsidc.org/...e-graph/

And please show me the data that says the oceans have risen some noticeable amount. How exactly do you measure the total volume of the ocean to the degree these alarmists are claiming?
Scroofinator
2.2 / 5 (10) Jan 14, 2016
your graph is of just Antarctic

Nope it's actually the Arctic. This is the Antarctic graph:
http://nsidc.org/...e-graph/
Notice that nifty little button at the top left that says "Arctic/Antarctic"?

Yes the ocean levels are rising.

Haha, nice data! Don't think I can take your word for it though...
Scroofinator
1.4 / 5 (10) Jan 14, 2016
One more point on icebergs, new research tells us that the large icebergs I spoke of actually "slow global warming".
https://www.scien...reports/
Now what they actually mean is "slow global warming", they just used the PC term.

So not only will these icebergs cool the oceans, but they will seed plankton blooms that will suck CO2 from the atmosphere. Which, according to AGW would cause cooling too, would it not?
runrig
4.4 / 5 (9) Jan 14, 2016
That's the thing though, we aren't losing ice. Look at the historical data, it has been pretty steady, with the exception of 2012 arctic season, since we have began keeping records. Even after that the ice levels rebounded to historical averages.
http://nsidc.org/...e-graph/


Scroofy;
I sometimes wonder about selective viewing of evidence to fit a bias......

See: December 2015 compared to previous Decembers here......
http://nsidc.org/...icenews/
Scroofinator
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 14, 2016
runrig, you have to understand the fact that all of this data comes after arguably the highest ice extent we have seen in recent history. The cold period of the 70s clearly created a larger ice extent, and since we have been warming since it's logical we wouldn't be able to reach those levels. It doesn't mean the 1979(first satellite evidence) levels were the norm. We honestly don't have enough data to make a firm decision on it either way, regardless of what is commonly accepted.
Scroofinator
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 14, 2016
I also find it funny that I am the one accused of cherry picking, when I show full satellite records and you only want people to see last December...
Eddy Courant
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2016
What happened to gloom and doom? Oceans vaporizing off into space? Extinction?
Scroofinator
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 14, 2016
understand the issue of ice balance

I do understand the process, which is why I say thinner ice sheets are more prone to producing icebergs. Calving is going to cut off big chunks of ice, which is due to the oceans absorbing more heat, which is going to release a bunch of ice into the oceans and cool it down. What other logical process can you come up with that would cause the planet to drastically cool on such a regular basis?

Figure one in your link shows a pretty linear progression. If global warming was causing it, wouldn't we expect to so a large spike in water levels once CO2 starts to really climb in the 70s?
http://zfacts.com...Temp.gif
jeffensley
1 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2016
Really? How about the declining NAO, or the increase of ice at the poles?
http://www.forbes...ba0432da
"Now, in May 2015, the updated NASA data show polar sea ice is approximately 5 percent above the post-1979 average."


Interesting. Thanks.
Scroofinator
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 15, 2016
You AGWers are so smug huh? If you knew anything about my view on climate, you would know that the M-cycles are just the effect, not the cause. The true cause is the sun, which forces the oceans into different phases, which alters heat transfer and the carbon cycle.

I've posted many times here regarding the topic, so look back through some of my older comments if you want more info. I don't need to waste my time on someone who has already made up their mind.
Scroofinator
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 15, 2016
haha what a clown, getting angry over a discussion on science. The M-cycles are the effects of planetary motion, they cause nothing. They set the conditions for the system, but they don't force any state changes. From your link:
For instance, while we know changes in the orbit pace ice ages, the precise way the three Milankovitch variations conspire to regulate the timing of glacial-interglacial cycles is not well known.


Who needs to be an expert? Even an amateur golfer can hit a hole in one...
Scroofinator
2 / 5 (10) Jan 15, 2016
Haha I was reading back through the comments to see how many times you called me ignorant, and I saw that I made a dumb comment.
research tells us that the large icebergs I spoke of actually "slow global warming"

I meant to say "slow climate change", but I had a brain fart. The count was 5 ignorants, a few "cherry pickers", and just an overall complete lack of general respect from the get go. Sorry I called you a "name". Should it be AGWers? I'm honestly asking because there has to be a PC term for it.
understanding that Milankovitch cycles are climate drivers

Again, you misunderstand the system. M-cycles are the engine, not the driver. They just tell us when the energy will be available, not how it is used. The driver has to steer that energy, and the main things that drive the energy in the lithosphere are the oceans.
(not a web site)

Why not? It's an open public forum, and there are some open minded people way smarter than me on here that might listen.
Scroofinator
2.3 / 5 (9) Jan 15, 2016
Dude, we are disagreeing on the definition of driver here, it's not worth it. I can see your devotion to the experts, and nothing short of a scientific paper that is peer reviewed and paid for will do. No worries, there's plenty of other civil people here to talk to.
runrig
4.4 / 5 (10) Jan 16, 2016
I also find it funny that I am the one accused of cherry picking, when I show full satellite records and you only want people to see last December...


OK:
http://psc.apl.uw...V2.1.png

Scroofy;
I say again...
I sometimes wonder about selective viewing of evidence to fit a bias.

Perhaps (or not) this will crack it (no joke intended) a tad....

https://www.youtu...nH48LvhQ

Get over it - Arctic sea-ice is in a long term decline.

runrig
4.2 / 5 (10) Jan 16, 2016
The fact that MC's drive the climate system is not controversial or even puzzling.
It derives it's power due to the fact that the Earth is asymmetric in it's land masses, and to boot we have a northern polar ocean that is essentially land-locked.
The conventional metric is to calculate the total solar insolation impacting 65 deg N in the northern summer - this an extreme variation of of ~435W/m2 to 565 W/m2 or a 23% variation of 130W/m2.

So over millenia ice sheets build up over the northern continents and the Earth's albedo increases > less TSI absorbed > lower T > more CO2 absobed due to lowering ocean T + less available atmospheric H20 > lowering T.
Driver = M cycle
Feed-backs = Falling Albedo. Falling GHG's

BUT: there are other subtleties at play - re dust over ice and ocean circulation - so it is known that an IA may miss out a MC extreme.

http://www.mathcl...2013.pdf
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Jan 16, 2016
Should, of course be increasing albedo and falling GHG's.
koitsu
1.1 / 5 (10) Jan 16, 2016
This is absolutely ridiculous that you (four) kids are picking on Scroofinator like this. Unlike genuine buffoons, who argue based purely on strong opinions, he is presenting logical and, yes, plausible hypotheses and evidence. It is at least enough to merit an adult discussion. The fact that some of you are getting angry to hear someone with a dissenting viewpoint puts you around elementary school-level maturity. You should be ashamed.

Also, here is a problem:
"What are your qualifications for challenging the scientific understanding?"

Just playing devil's advocate here, but what are your qualifications for supporting the current scientific understanding of a science which *absolutely undeniably* is still in its infancy?

Slam me for being another ignoramus as much as you like and perhaps protect your fragile egos, but alas, it will fall on deaf ears. I'm disgusted, but I've already learned not to revisit articles on this site after providing my own opinion. Too many kids.
Bongstar420
5 / 5 (3) Jan 16, 2016
....we hope

Mike_Massen
3 / 5 (13) Jan 16, 2016
Scroofinator says
Dude, we are disagreeing on the definition of driver here, it's not worth it
It IS worth it, language is inextricably linked to cognitive sucess

Vast bulk of Earth's (climate) energy arises from Sol, that is the source, it's 100% clear !

Scroofinator claims
I can see your devotion to the experts..
Of course as the 'experts' have done the hard yards & are peer reviewed & have training & have keen knowledge of:-
https://en.wikipe...transfer
leads to
https://en.wikipe..._forcing
well illustrated
http://cbc.arizon.../sim/gh/

Do u deny any of these ?

Scroofinator says
..nothing short of a scientific paper that is peer reviewed and paid for will do
Eh 'paid for', work at education for free !

Scroofinator says
No worries, there's plenty of other civil people here to talk to
Any lack of civility betrays frustration you haven't got grounding to (yet) appreciate key fundamentals...
Mike_Massen
3 / 5 (14) Jan 16, 2016
koitsu says
The fact that some of you are getting angry to hear someone with a dissenting viewpoint puts you around elementary school-level maturity
Its not the dissenting view its the shady/messy claims that go with its offering ie Not appropriate to link to non-science sites, Scroofinator depends on history, misses contemporary rate of change & makes unclear claim re icebergs, misses specific heat re mass vs extent

koitsu claims
..here is a problem:
"What are your qualifications for challenging the scientific understanding?"
No, education in key fundamentals, see my last post please ?

koitsu asks
Just playing devil's advocate here, but what are your qualifications for supporting the current scientific understanding of a science which *absolutely undeniably* is still in its infancy?
Education in fundamental Physics of heat which is proven !

Appeal to authority isnt helpful, as many scientists/engineers (qualified) never got key education in heat !
rrrander
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 17, 2016
Of course, any warming we see now could very well be because the last ice age is still ending so we are on a temperature upswing.
Mike_Massen
2.9 / 5 (14) Jan 17, 2016
rrrander offered
Of course, any warming we see now could very well be because the last ice age is still ending so we are on a temperature upswing
An idea but, observe please & comment

1
Lower insolation
https://en.wikipe...sessment

2
Given 1 then where does large extra heat come from to coincide with (as you put it) ".last ice age ending." ?

3
Evidence shows definitively GHGs - greatest contributor being CO2, which so far has *never* been refuted, ie Testable & based on very old AND settled Physics ~100yrs
https://en.wikipe..._forcing
So rrrander, if not here, see 1

4
https://en.wikipe...h_cycles
Which shows a downturn, see 1

5
Physics of heat*very* well known/proven but, to understand it well needs key education in
https://en.wikipe...echanics
&
https://en.wikipe...capacity

Q:- Where else could extra heat come from & has it been checked ?
EnricM
2.5 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2016


"Now, in May 2015, the updated NASA data show polar sea ice is approximately 5 percent above the post-1979 average."


This is is vanilla or chocolate ?
vazonosito
5 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2016
Even without man-made climate change we would expect the beginning of a new ice age no earlier than in 50.000 years from now

This seems silly considering the interglacial periods average about 20k years, at least for the past 500k years.

The last glacial period began about 110,000 years ago and ended about 15,000 years ago. The main period (between the peaks) was about 100,000 years, going back 800,000 years.
HeloMenelo
3 / 5 (6) Jan 22, 2016
Waiting for False "Profit" Al to inform the Chicken Littles that their grand-grand-grand.........grand children will never know what an ice-age is.


aaaahhh looki here antisciencegorilla in all his big furry jimbo glory....aaaa.....i'm up for a good game of ping pong, and you gonna be our bouncy ball (as always ;) actually i see u already have been bouncing back and forth quite a lot today along with all your sockpuppets) (you know like those trolls in that children show you grew up with called gummi bears.. ;)

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