Our Present Ice Age
At the present time, glaciers - large, slowly flowing masses of ice formed from recrystallized snow - cover about 6 million of the approximately 57 million square miles of land area on the Earth. At the height of an ice age, perhaps another 8 to 12 million square miles of land area, largely in the Northern Hemisphere, becomes covered with a thick layer of ice and crushed snow.
The idea of large-scale glacial motion was brought to the attention of modern science by a Swiss chamois hunter in the early 19th century, who hypothesized that unusual striations in large exposed rocks had been caused by the pressure of a glacier that had since retreated up the mountain.
Louis Agassiz, the Swiss paleontologist and associate of the famous Humboldt brothers, waged the fight to convince the scientific community of the truth of this hypothesis, beginning at a conference of the Swiss Society of Natural Sciences at Neuchatel in 1837.
Northern Hemisphere glaciers have been with us only for approximately the past 2 million years, a short stretch on the roughly 4.6 billion-year scale of geologic time, in which our present era, the Cenozoic, occupies the most recent 50 million years (Figure 1 above). The Cenozoic era is divided into two periods, the Tertiary and Quaternary, the latter of which began about 2 million years ago with the onset of the glacial buildup.
Within our present Quaternary period, there are two further subdivisions known as epochs. These are the Pleistocene, which began about 2 million years ago, and the Holocene (or Recent) epoch, which is roughly 10,000 to 12,000 years old. (Some paleontologists argue quite cogently that we are still in the Pleistocene and dispense with the designation of a Recent epoch.)
Currently, the greatest area of glaciation is the continental ice sheet of Antarctica (about 5.0 million square miles), which began its expansion about 5 million years ago. The largest Northern Hemisphere glacier is the Greenland ice sheet (about 0.8 million square miles).
As the glaciation expands, most of the additional growth takes place in the Northern Hemisphere.
The whole of the last 2 million years, the Quaternary period, is considered an ice age, a relatively rare state of affairs in geologic history. But this long-term ice age has been marked by ebbs and flows in glacial extent. The work of the past two centuries in climatology, paleobiology, meteorology, astronomy, geology, geophysics, and many other fields has confirmed the existence of an astronomically determined cyclical pattern within the Quaternary ice age.
Driven by well-defined cycles in the Earth's orbital orientation to the Sun, periods of roughly 100,000 years of generally advancing glaciation have been followed by short periods, of roughly 10,000 years' duration, in which the glaciers retreat.
These two periods or subdivisions of the ice age are known as glacials and interglacials.
The 100,000-year periods are not one continuous downward slope of temperature and glaciation, but are modulated by roughly 20,000-year cycles, consisting of 10,000 years of cooling and glacial advance followed by 10,000 years of warming and retreat.
The Ice Ages, In Short
The Ice Age Cycles, A Brief Introduction.....
An ice age, or more precisely, a glacial age, is a period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Within a long-term ice age, individual pulses of cold climate are termed "glacial periods" (or alternatively "glacials" or "glaciations" or colloquially as "ice age"), and intermittent warm periods are called "interglacials". Glaciologically, ice age implies the presence of extensive ice sheets in the northern and southern hemispheres. By this definition, we are still in the ice age that began 2.6 million years ago at the start of the Pleistoceneepoch, because the Greenland, Arctic, and Antarctic ice sheets still exist
The Ice Age's repeat in cycles like clock work; the 360 year cycle, the 23,000 year cycle and the 105,000 year cycle. It Is our job to predict them and get that information to you. The 360 year cycle, caused by solar activity and fluctuations. The 23,000 year cycle is called the 'Procession of the Equinoxes', caused when Earth tilt's on it's axis. Earth's North-Pole rotates between northern stars 'Polaris and Vega'. The 105,000 year cycle which is caused by a change in Earth-orbit. Earth swings out to an elliptical orbit with a higher rate of eccentricity. Earth moves approximately 3 million miles further from the sun and back again, this process takes 105,000 years.
The 360 Year Cycle, A Brief Description (Learn About Solar Minimums Here)
We are due for the 360 year cycle RIGHT NOW! This cycle returns like clock work around every 360 years. The last cooling known as the "Little Ice Age" took grip of the northern hemisphere between AD 1550 and AD 1850. This time period was linked to agriculture failure and mass famine. This cycle is set to repeat and the cooling has already begun, this started in 2007. The northern hemisphere will now continue to cool until around 2035, after which we shall be in the very depths of a new Mini Ice Age type condition. Learn More......
The 23,000 Year Cycle, A Brief Description
Earth is also due for another cycle, the 23,000 year cycle. This cycle could be at-least 1,000 years away however, as we enter into a Mini Ice Age type condition much of the northern hemisphere is covered in snow and ice, this acts like huge mirrors and reflects over 50% of the light back out into space. The reflective surface reflects back much of the suns radiation causing the Earth to cool further and faster, this could give way to the 23,000 year cycle. Learn More......
The 105,000 Year Cycle, A Brief Description
Earth is also due for an even larger Ice Age Cycle, the 105,000 year cycle. Much like the domino effect this cycle could be at-least 2,000 years away however, as we enter into the 23,000 year Ice Age, the same thing happens as talked about above, each ice age giving way to the next. All returning like clockwork. Learn More......
Ice Age Earth hope's that the fascinating story of our climate, with the contentious issues and the conflicting interpretations, will hold the attention of every reader to the finish. Thus, this website is meant to be self-contained and self- explanatory. This website simply aims to present the reader with the truth amid the confusion in the scientific world. The reader is encouraged to draw their own conclusion from the data presented here on Iceageearth.com
Where Are We Now?
We are currently beyond the expected end-point of an interglacial period that began more than 10,000 years ago. We are thus at a point on the paleoclimatic timetable where the onset of a new 100,000-year ice age is expected and may even be already in progress.
The global climate has been generally cooling over the past 6,000 to 8,000 years, and is now about 1 degree Fahrenheit cooler than at the time of the postglacial climatic optimum. One might cite evidence such as the advance of the Greenland ice sheet and the southward movement of the limit of citrus growing in the southeast United States over the past 40 years to suggest that the expected cooling is even now under way.
However, because these astronomically driven cyclical trends are of long duration (10,000 years being the shortest cooling cycle), it is not possible to attribute a climatic trend on a time span so short as a few decades or even a few centuries to a single cause. One must take a broader view.
The melting of the glaciers that had formed during the last 100,000-year ice age cycle took a long time, and the rate of melting was varied. The North American Laurentide ice sheet was the last to retreat. If we date the beginning of postglacial (interglacial) times to a point roughly 10,000 years ago (c. 8000 B.C.), it is then useful to look at the climate, especially temperature trends, over this recent 10,000 years. Following a number of short-term oscillations beginning about 12,000 B.C., a rise in temperature that set in about 8300 B.C. led to sustained warm climates in the northern European lands formerly covered by ice.
The maximum summer temperatures experienced in Europe over the last 10,000 years occurred in about 6000 B.C. over North America, where the process of glacial retreat lagged somewhat, the maximum was reached by about 4000 B.C. That period is known as the Postglacial Climatic Optimum (or the altithermal period) when mean temperatures were about 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than today.
Beginning about 3500 B.C., a sharp reversal known as the Piora oscillation set in, marked by advance of the glaciers in Europe and large-scale migration of agricultural peoples. From 3000 B.C. to 1000 B.C., the climate regained some of its former warmth but was apparently subject to recurrent fluctuations, particularly in rainfall.
From 1000 to 500 B.C., the glaciers advanced again. In Europe the most marked change appears from 1200 B.C. to 700 B.C., coinciding with the Dark Age period that Homeric scholarship suggests occurred in Greek-speaking lands. In some places (Alaska, Chile, China) there is evidence that the cooling and re-advance of the glaciers began as early as 1500 B.C.2
A period of warmth and higher sea level came to Europe around the year 400 followed by another reversion to colder and wetter climates. This was again reversed, and there was a very warm period that culminated in Greenland about 900 to 1200 and in Europe 1100 to 1300. Known as the Medieval (or Little) Climatic Optimum, temperatures in this period became, briefly, nearly as warm as in the postglacial climatic optimum.
As historical climatologist H.H. Lamb describes it:
Oats and barley grew in Iceland. The limit of tillage in northern England, Wales, the Scottish highlands, in central Norway, and in high regions of central Europe was extended hundreds of meters up the hills and mountainsides. Mining operations were begun high in the Alps. Norse colonists were catching cod in the sea off western Greenland, and a regular northern sea route developed to North America.
In the Mississippi valley, peoples were moving northward into Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, and human settlements spread d from about 1550 to 1750, but extreme cold weather began earlier and ended considerably later in many parts. The Greenland colony, for example, died out not long after the year 1400. And in England, tent cities were set up and Frost Fairs celebrated on the frozen river Thames as late as the winter of 1813-14.
Renewed moisture in North Africa allowed cattle to thrive in now-arid regions, and journeys across the desert from North Africa to Ghana, Mali, and Kufra are described by the Arab geographers between the 11th and 14th centuries.
This warming period, which ended as early as 1100 in parts of North America and later in Europe, was followed by a roughly 500-year period of severe cooling known as the Little Ice Age - the Klima-Verschlechterung, or climate-worsening in the German literature.
Some of the symptoms of the cooling as described by Lamb were:
advance of the inland ice and permafrost in Greenland and of the glaciers in Iceland, Norway, and the Alps
spread of Arctic sea ice into the north Atlantic around Greenland, forcing abandonment of the sailing routes used from the year 1000 to 1300
lowering of the tree-line in central European highlands and in the Rockies, spread of lakes and marshes in Europe and northern Russia, swollen rivers and increasing frequency of landslides
increasing frequency of freezing of rivers and lakes
increasing severity of windstorms and sea floods
harvest failures and rising prices of wheat and bread
abandonment of tillage, vineyards, and farm villages
increased incidence of disease and death among human and animal populations.
The Conditions for an Ice Age
From the long-range view of the geologist, the last 2 million years of glacial climate conditions are not the global "norm." Only two times in the 600 million year near-term geologic record have the conditions been ripe for an ice age: once in the Permian period of the Paleozoic era, about 250 million years ago, and once more in the present Quaternary period.
There are two basic requirements for an ice age:
First, a configuration of the continents that places a large portion of the land mass in polar and non-tropical regions.
Second, a climate in the higher latitudes characterized by wet, snowy winters followed by summers cool enough to not reduce the glacial advances made the previous winter.
Although the causes that give rise to these two conditions are complex and far from perfectly understood, the recognition of their importance and of some of the basic mechanisms governing their genesis dates to no later than the early part of this century.
Subsequent advances in nearly all the physical sciences and the work of thousands of researchers in the many fields related to historical climatology have greatly enhanced our understanding and documentation of the climate record.
But the big challenge, to understand climate well enough to be able to predict its future course, is still out of reach.
The Solar Astronomical Cycles
In 1910, the same year that Wegener was formulating the theory of continental drift, his father-in-law, Koppen, was musing over the earlier research of glaciologists Albrecht Penck (1858-1945) and Eduard Brückner(1862-1927), Die Alpen in Eiszeitalter (The Alps in the Ice Age).
Through their extensive fieldwork in Alpine regions, Penck and Brückner had been able to distinguish four separate cycles of glacial advance and retreat over the ages, and they produced a climatic curve for the ice age.
Köppen conceived the idea of superimposing on this curve the time-scale produced by examining the changes in insolation caused by regular cycles in the Earth's orbital relationship to the Sun. Köppen's hope was that the cycles of glacial advance and retreat could be dated by correlating them to the astronomical cycles.
The idea of a correlation between long-term changes in climate and the solar-astronomical cycles goes back to a hypothesis put forth in 1830 by Sir John Herschel, the son of the great astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel and a leading figure in 19th-century British science. Herschel thought that the 23,000 year cycle of seasonal predession of the equinox might have a determining effect on climatic history.
His hypothesis was taken up and elaborated first by the French mathematician J.F. Adhémar in 1842, and then by the self-taught Scottish climatologist James Croll beginning in 1860, who added into his calculations the cycle of change of the eccentricity of the orbit. However, at the end of the 19th century, the exact periodicity and extent of this cyclical variable had not been precisely calculated.
Croll was also hampered by his incorrect supposition that periods of ice buildup would coincide with the harshest winters.
It has since been deduced that mild summers, in which the glacial advance of the previous winter's snow is not erased, are more important than the harshness of winter.
Nevertheless, against great opposition, Croll defended the hypothesis first advanced by Herschel into the end of the 19th century. In 1910, when Koppen and then Wegener took it up again, it was neither a popular nor a widely accepted hypothesis.
What's Wrong with Global Warming Theory?
Everyone would like to know what the temperature will be tomorrow and some far-sighted people wonder what it will be like fifty, one hundred, or even thousands of years into the future. The only honest answer is that we really do not know.
As indicated by the fluctuations and sometimes rather rapid reversals of global and regional climate briefly documented here, it is not possible to draw competent conclusions from trends of a few decades, or even centuries concerning the direction of climatic trends. It is certainly not possible to forecast future climates on the basis of one parameter (C02 density).
What the historical record does tell us is that we are in a secular tendency toward a new glaciation.
To propose - as does the currently popular Malthusian fad known as 'global warming' - that we are moving into a period of substantial glacial melt and sea-level rise runs counter to the evidence and the conclusions of more than two centuries of scientific work.
It is sufficient to point out a few anomalies to call the whole global warming conjecture into serious doubt:
The Greenland ice sheet and snow buildup in Antarctica have recently advanced.
Since 1980, there has been an advance of more than 55 percent of the 625 mountain glaciers (Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Iceland, United States, and Soviet Union) under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring group in Zurich. (From 1926 to 1960, 70 to 95 percent of the monitored glaciers were in retreat.)
The limit of the citrus-growing region in the U.S. Southeast has moved southward, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its hardiness zones southward.
The often cited figures for the current warming trend show a rise in mean global temperature of about 1 degree F since 1880.
However, these data are somewhat suspect. A great deal of statistical manipulation is required to try to discount the warming caused by urbanization around the monitoring stations. What one should bear in mind is that the global climate in 1880, including the Northern Hemisphere was exceptionally cool.
Thus the curve starts from a point in time when temperatures were unusually low, which exaggerates the warming effect.
Furthermore, the global temperature curve shows warming from 1880 to 1940, cooling from 1940 to 1976, and renewed warming from 1976 to the present - the net rise being 0.5 Celsius or about 1 degree Fahrenheit.
The point should be made that most of this 'warming' took place in the first half of the century before widespread use of fossil fuels (and increased carbon dioxide emissions). Moreover, the recent global temperature increase has occurred over tropical regions.
As atmospheric scientist Hugh Ellsaesser points out (21st Century, Winter 1991, p. 53):
"While the warming up to 1940 was greatest in the North Atlantic and in winter, the more recent warming since 1976 has been greatest in the tropics, and some of the earlier warming in the North Atlantic has gone away."
These are conditions that can and apparently do favor advance of glaciation.
Regarding measurement of carbon dioxide and our understanding of its role in the atmosphere, one should consider the following:
Estimates of the pre-industrial levels of C02 are subjective. Nineteenth century measurements of C02 were carried out with error factors of up to 100 percent.
The Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii is considered an ideal site for C02 monitoring. However it is also near the site of an active volcano whose C02 emissions must be "edited" from the data.
The concentrations of C02 in air bubbles trapped in ice are often taken as previous atmospheric concentrations, which assumes that the air's composition remains unchanged. However, studies show that C02 content in ice can be greatly enriched or depleted in comparison to original atmospheric levels.
The out-gassing of CO2 from the Earth's mantle annually is 10 times that of man-made sources, and the C02 exchanged annually between the ocean and the atmosphere is much greater than that. If all the Earth's fossil fuels were burned it is likely that the C02 produced would be dissolved in the ocean, before reaching an atmospheric concentration double current C02 levels.
It is not out of the question that a short-term, counter-cyclical trend, such as the conjectured warming caused by human production of C02 and other greenhouse gases (of which water vapor of natural origin is by far the most prevalent), might
disrupt a longer-term cooling trend. But this must be proven, as it has not been.
Any competent scientific discussion of the 'global warming conjecture' would have to be located in the context of the secular tendency toward an ice age.
The global warming case has not been put forth as science, however. Instead, what has been set before the public are scare scenarios of massive polar ice melt, sea level rise, and catastrophic flooding for the coastal regions, combined with heat and drought conditions over large parts of the rest of the globe.
This is not science but intellectual dishonesty bordering on fraud.