Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

The Response of Northern Hemisphere Glaciers to Past Climate Warming

Over the past 2.6 My, during ice-age glacial maxima, large areas of the Northern Hemisphere were covered by ice sheets. Insights into the way ice sheets behave under warming climate conditions is provided by the records of the retreat of these ice sheets during deglaciations. The southern margins of land-based ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere have been found to have responded almost instantaneously to warming that results from summer insolation, the land-based glaciers retreating at a rate that was commensurate with the warming of the deglaciation climate. The response of the marine-based ice sheets to the warming was delayed, though the retreat of these marine ice sheets was characterised by periods of rapid collapse. The authors1 suggest these observations raise concerns over the response of the remaining ice sheets of the Earth to global warming induced by increased levels of carbon dioxide. The authors1 suggest the Greenland ice sheet could be poised to respond to the increasing temperatures of climate change, as indicated by the almost immediate reaction of land-based glaciers to past small increases of summertime energy. The authors1 also suggest the precedent of prehistoric marine-based ice sheets undergoing abrupt collapses suggests there may be potential for a response that is less predictable of the marine based West-Antarctic Ice Sheet to climate change in the future.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Carlson, Anders E., and Kelsey Winsor. "Northern Hemisphere Ice-Sheet Responses to Past Climate Warming." Nature Geosci 5, no. 9 (09//print 2012): 607-13.


Author:Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 04/04/2013
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