Although the past two ice ages both marked periods of unusual cooling, they were very different in terms of how they ended and their effects on global climate, researchers from the University of Southampton say in a recent press release.
The past two ice ages took place around 135,000 years ago and 10,000-20,000 years ago. Using cave records and marine sediments, researchers determined how the final days of both ages were unique.
The ice age from 135,000 years ago ended with a dramatic melting of the Northern hemisphere ice sheets into the North Atlantic. This event in turn cooled the North seas and warmed the South seas and Antarctic land ice. Global climate change resulted, as well as a several-meter increase in sea level.
The more recent ice age also involved a collapse of Northern hemisphere ice sheets, but climate change did not occur at the same time.
Although the endings of the ice ages were different, scientists say the information can still be used to evaluate current Antarctic ice sheet melting behavior in today’s warming climate.