Related topics: carbon dioxide · climate change · glaciers · climate

What causes an ice age to end?

New University of Melbourne research has revealed that ice ages over the last million years ended when the tilt angle of the Earth's axis was approaching higher values.

Coincidences influence the onset and ending of ice ages

An analysis of the so called climate spectrum shows why the ice ages have not behaved precisely as the models predict. A large element of coincidence is involved when an ice age begins or ends, the analysis shows. Peter Ditlevsen ...

Quo vadis Antarctic bottom water?

Ocean currents are essential for the global distribution of heat and thus also for climate on earth. For example, oxygen is transferred into the deep sea through the formation of new deep water around Antarctica. Weddell ...

LSU Coast & Environment class modeling a "Frozen" ice age

Paul Miller, assistant professor and coastal meteorologist in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences, is using popular culture as an entry point by which his students can understand complex environmental interactions ...

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Ice age

The general term "ice age" or, more precisely, "glacial age" denotes a geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in an expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Within a long-term ice age, individual pulses of extra cold climate are termed "glaciations". Glaciologically, ice age implies the presence of extensive ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres; by this definition we are still in an ice age (because the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets still exist).

More colloquially, when speaking of the last few thousand years, "the" ice age refers to the most recent colder period (or freezing period) with extensive ice sheets over the North American and Eurasian continents: in this sense, the most recent ice age peaked, in its Last Glacial Maximum about 20,000 years ago. This article will use the term ice age in the former, glaciological, sense: glacials for colder periods during ice ages and interglacials for the warmer periods.

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