Friday, April 13, 2012

Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse Linked To Ancient 'Mega Flood'

by Jennifer Walsh
Dramatic warming at the end of the last ice age produced an intense rise in sea level and a massive ice sheet collapse in the Antarctic.
The sea level rise is known as Melt-Water Pulse 1A, and new research indicates it increased sea level by about 45 feet (14 meters) sometime between 14,650 and 14,310 years ago, during the same time as a period of rapid climate change known as the Bølling warming.
Understanding the impacts of earlier warming and sea-level rise is important for predicting the effects of future warming.
"It is vital that we look into Earth's geological past to understand rare but high-impact events, such as the collapse of giant ice sheets that occurred 14,600 years ago," study researcher Alex Thomas of Oxford University said in a statement. "Our work gives a window onto an extreme event in which deglaciation coincided with a dramatic and rapid rise in global sea levels — an ancient 'mega flood.'"
During this period, "sea level rose more than ten times more quickly than it is rising now," Thomas said, with the rising seas resulting from melting ice sheets that had formed during the ice age. "This is an excellent test bed for climate models: If they can reproduce this extraordinary event, it will improve confidence that they can also predict future change accurately." Read More