Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




ICE WORLD
Carbon dioxide - our salvation from a future ice age?
by Staff Writers
Gothenburg, Sweden (SPX) Nov 09, 2012


illustration only

Mankind's emissions of fossil carbon and the resulting increase in temperature could prove to be our salvation from the next ice age. According to new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, the current increase in the extent of peatland is having the opposite effect.

"We are probably entering a new ice age right now. However, we're not noticing it due to the effects of carbon dioxide", says researcher Professor Lars Franzen.

Looking back over the past three million years, the earth has experienced at least 30 periods of ice age, known as ice age pulses. The periods in between are called interglacials. The researchers believe that the Little Ice Age of the 16th to 18th centuries may have been halted as a result of human activity. Increased felling of woodlands and growing areas of agricultural land, combined with the early stages of industrialisation, resulted in increased emissions of carbon dioxide which probably slowed down, or even reversed, the cooling trend.

"It is certainly possible that mankind's various activities contributed towards extending our ice age interval by keeping carbon dioxide levels high enough," explains Lars Franzen, Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Gothenburg.

"Without the human impact, the inevitable progression towards an ice age would have continued. The spread of peatlands is an important factor."

Peatlands act as carbon sinks, meaning that they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are a dynamic landscape element and currently cover around four percent of the earth's land area. Most peatlands are found in temperate areas north and south of the 45th parallel.

Around 16 percent of Sweden is covered by peatland. Peatlands grow in height and spread across their surroundings by waterlogging woodlands. They are also one of the biggest terrestrial sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Each year, around 20 grams of carbon are absorbed by every square metre of peatland.

"By using the National Land Survey of Sweden's altitude database, we have calculated how much of Sweden could be covered by peatlands during an interglacial. We have taken a maximum terrain incline of three degrees as our upper limit, and have also excluded all lakes and areas with substrata that are unsuitable for peatland formation."

The researchers found that around half of Sweden's surface could be covered by peat. In such a case, the carbon dioxide sink would increase by a factor of between six and ten compared with the current situation.

"If we accept that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to an increase in global temperature, the logical conclusion must be that reduced levels lead to a drop in temperature."

The relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature is not linear. Instead, lower levels result in a greater degree of cooling than the degree of warming achieved by a corresponding increase.

"There have been no emissions of fossil carbon during earlier interglacials. Carbon sequestration in peatland may therefore be one of the main reasons why ice age conditions have occurred time after time."

Using calculations for Swedish conditions, the researchers are also producing a rough estimate of the global carbon sink effect if all temperate peatlands were to grow in the same way.

"Our calculations show that the peatlands could contribute towards global cooling equivalent to five watts per square metre. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that we are near the end of the current interglacial."

Professor Franzen and three other researchers have published their findings in the journal Mires and Peat. 1. Franzen, L.G., F. Lindberg, V. Viklander and A. Walther (2012) The potential peatland extent and carbon sink in Sweden, as related to the Peatland / Ice Age Hypothesis. Mires and Peat 10(8):1-19.

.


Related Links
University of Gothenburg
Beyond the Ice Age






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ICE WORLD
UMass Amherst climate modeler identifies trigger for Earth's last big freeze
Amherst MA (SPX) Nov 08, 2012
For more than 30 years, climate scientists have debated whether flood waters from melting of the enormous Laurentide Ice Sheet, which ushered in the last major cold episode on Earth about 12,900 years ago, flowed northwest into the Arctic first, or east via the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to weaken ocean thermohaline circulation and have a frigid effect on global climate. Now University of Massa ... read more


ICE WORLD
Moon crater yields impact clues

Study: Moon basin formed by giant impact

NASA's LADEE Spacecraft Gets Final Science Instrument Installed

Astrium presents results of its study into automatic landing near the Moon's south pole

ICE WORLD
More Driving And Imaging At 'Matijevic Hill'

Curiosity Team Switches Back to Earth Time

Survey of 'Matijevic Hill' Continues

Mars Longevity Champ Switching Computers

ICE WORLD
Voyager observes magnetic field fluctuations in heliosheath

New NASA Online Science Resource Available for Educators and Students

'First' Pakistan astronaut wants to make peace in space

Space daredevil Baumgartner is 'officially retired'

ICE WORLD
China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

China to launch 11 meteorological satellites by 2020

China makes progress in spaceflight research

ICE WORLD
Crew Prepares for Spacewalk After Progress Docks

Crew Preparing for Cargo Ship, Spacewalk

Russian cargo ship docks with ISS: official

Packed Week Ahead for Six-Member Crew

ICE WORLD
Ariane 5 is poised for Arianespace's launch with the EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 satellites

Ariane 5 orbits EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3 satellites

Arianespace's heavy-lift Ariane 5 flight is cleared for liftoff with EUTELSAT 21B and Star One C3

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building Prepared for Multiple Rockets

ICE WORLD
Physicists confirm first planet discovered in a quadruple star system

Planet-hunt data released to public

New Study Brings a Doubted Exoplanet 'Back from the Dead'

New small satellite will study super-Earths for ESA

ICE WORLD
HTC and Apple reach global settlement

Nanocrystals and nickel catalyst substantially improve light-based hydrogen production

Apple still perched high, but seems vulnerable

Radar Production Readiness Review For Indonesia National Air Space Surveillance Program Completed




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement