Scientists study how Earth’s oceans plunged the planet into a catastrophic big freeze

November 7, 2012CLIMATE A giant flood of Arctic meltwater may have triggered an ancient 1,200-year-long chill nicknamed the “Big Freeze,” the last major cold age on Earth, a new study finds. These findings suggest that changes in the flow of water in the Arctic could suddenly alter the modern climate, study investigators added. Starting about 12,900 years ago, the Northern Hemisphere was abruptly gripped by centuries of cold, an era technically known as the Younger Dryas. Scientists have suggested this chill helped wipe out most of the large mammals in North America as well as the so-called Clovis people. The Big Freeze was not a glacial period, which is colloquially often called ice ages — it was a cold time in the relatively warm spans between glacial periods. Although researchers have suggested a cosmic impact might have set off this Big Freeze, the prevailing theory for the cause of the Younger Dryas was a vast pulse of freshwater— a greater volume than all of North America’s Great Lakes combined — that poured into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The source of this flood was apparently the glacial Lake Agassiz, located along the southern margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which at its maximum 21,000 years ago was 6,500 to 9,800 feet thick and covered much of North America, from the Arctic Ocean south to Seattle and New York. “The flood was likely caused by the sudden breaking of an ice dam,” said researcher Alan Condron, a physical oceanographer at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Prior to the flood, meltwater is thought to have drained into the Gulf of Mexico, down the Mississippi River. After the dam broke, the water rapidly flowed into the ocean via a different river drainage system.” This deluge would have diluted the circulation of saltwater in the North Atlantic, disrupting the ocean “conveyer belt” that cycles warm water up to the Arctic, where it cools and sinks and travels back south along the ocean floor. With less warm seawater moving poleward, temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere apparently plunged. –Daily Mail
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12 Responses to Scientists study how Earth’s oceans plunged the planet into a catastrophic big freeze

  1. The Gulf Stream Current has been severely altered/stopped since June 2010. Look at any Ocean temperature model. It’s quite evident.


  2. Emanni says:

    This reminds me of the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow
    After a series of weather-related disasters that start to occur over the world, NORAD Paleoclimatologist Jack Hall makes a brave trek across America to rescue his son, trapped in New York during a global ice storm. Everyone realizes the world is entering a new Ice Age and people in northern climates start evacuating to the warmer climates in the south.


  3. Good observation, Emanni … Whitley Strieber and Art Bell wrote a book called “The Coming Global Superstorm”, which was turned into the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. Although it was written in a fictionalized vein, it was predicitive in nature. I would suggest that you get your hands on a copy of “The Key”, also by Whitley Strieber. Make sure it is the new release and not the one publised in 2002, as that one was “censored” before it went to print.


  4. One thing missing from that map or actually 2 is that there were two great lakes in western US, one in montanna, which drained “catastrophically, and one in AZ Lake Hopi. which may have created the grand canyon. 300 cubic miles Of water in the case of lake Hopi…that would have changed weather patterns drasticly, as well as rainfall patterns. It would be interesting to see what time frame they both occured, because this could also play into the equation….. because this was in the Hopi “memory” which could also give us a date on some of their ledgends


  5. Luke says:



    2012/11/07 16:35:50






  6. Tom says:

    Sudden shifts from “normal” to cold can happen very fast according to another study i read. Full blown iceage in just 10-20 years.
    That would surely be negative for humans
    Iceages has lasted 80000-100000yrs with a warm period of 10000yrs in between according to scientists(then we can expect a new iceage pretty much anytime soon)
    But If methane gases makes it up to the atmosphere on a grand scale like some other studies show then we will surely see more extremely hot days ahead and more storms

    The only thing we can be sure of is that the climate Is in constant change with or without humans
    Adapt to that or die


  7. PKK says:

    Hi Alvin and All,
    Day after the US election and we have a snowstorm hitting NYC, a 4.5 quake hitting Utah and a 7.4 hitting Guatemala. What will it take to wake up more of the world’s people to the times and the meaning of life? Many are awakening and many are resisting…Paula


  8. Actually I think the south will be to dam hot and the rest of the states will be either destroyed by earthquakes and flooded out.
    Or heck maybe a huge volcano will explode and take out most the world.

    I say pray for Tomorrow and Prepare for Today…


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