According to scientists, previous ice ages have had a significant role in shaping the landscape, the evolution of mankind as well as other organisms. Five major glaciation periods have been studied and documented. Evidence gathered so far indicate that humans successfully adapted and emerged as the dominant organism in the last major glacial period. Others were not that lucky. A case in point was the wooly mammoth.
Global Ice Age Overview
The ice age is a period characterized by recurrent and prolonged global climatic refrigeration leading to glacial outgrowth. The extended time frame can stretch into millions of years. These periods are punctuated with brief warmer temperatures, technically referred to as interglacial intervals.
With reduced climatic temperatures coupled with the overlying snow weight, snow crystallization leads to the formation of ice. The presence of ice sheets on both sides of the poles (north and south poles) forms the basis of ice age characterization. Guided by this definition, the Earth is currently experiencing an interglacial episode.
Precipitate of an Ice Age
A general consensus among scientist is that an ice age is a process and not an event. Takes thousands of millions of years to occur. When the Northern Hemisphere experiences freezing temperature during the summer for a prolonged period of time (read years) the preceding winter snow fails to melt. Consequently crystallizing to form ice. Ultimately the ice gets compacted into glacial sheets. According to Dr. Phipps a glacial sheet modeler at the University of Tasmania. Canada has been reported as the point of origin of the glacial sheets which later spreads to cover the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
Freezing temperatures during summer is attributable to a phenomenon called Milankovitch cycle – the alteration of the Earth path around the sun coupled by tilting forces result in dissimilar solar radiation being received at a given point on earth.
The Return of Ice Age
What should you be dealing with? An ice age period or the rise in global temperatures? Two distinctive climatic phenomena that are the extreme opposite of each other Paleoclimatic data suggest that you should prepare for the latter.
Poking holes to the Malthusian school of thought of global warming. In brief, Laurence Hecht in his publication: “The Coming (or Present) Ice Age”, labels global warming a fad. Relying on faultily adjusted carbon emission as well as temperature to give credence to a non-existing phenomenon.
Guided by past climatic evidence, which shows the Northern Hemisphere experience cooler summers, Dr. Phipps authoritatively indicate that the earth is on a path of experiencing a return of an ice age. However, he is of the view that it will be deferred due to the effect of greenhouse gasses. A stand that contradicts Hecht’s stand.
Preparing For the Inevitable Ice Age
The onset may have been deferred for now, but all indicators suggest it will eventually come to pass. Guided by past ice age experiences the human way of life will take a hit. Areas next to the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, and Asia) will experience mass immigration due to the inhospitable climatic condition. The entire aforementioned land will be covered by ice, guided by previous glacial projections. It goes without saying famine will take root. The Agriculturally viable land would shrink tremendously.
A 360 foot (120 meters) drop in the sea level would offer a reprieve to the famine situation. Pristine land along the water channels would be put to farming. Redefining water communication and transport systems since continent would be fused. No more boats to move from North America to Europe!
Flora and fauna will equally face some challenges. The poorly adapted organism in the past ice ages got wiped out. The wooly mammoth didn’t make it. Similarly, the small animals such as the lemmings also didn’t come out unscathed.
It will be mixed bag of reactions when an ice age eventually happens. From changing human lifestyle to reshaping the landscape to redistribution of both mega and micro fauna all will be affected in one way or another. You can take solace in that an ice age is not happening anytime soon. At least not in your lifetime!