November 8, 2012

Transitions - peat bogs and ice ages

From Anthony over at Watts Up With That: New paper suggests that CO2 ‘…could prove to be our salvation from the next ice age’ From the University of Gothenburg, another head exploder for Joe Romm and company.
Carbon dioxide – our salvation from a future ice age?
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 Franzén.

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 Franzén, 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.”
Much more at the site. Makes a lot of sense and, this is measured data, boots-on-the-ground observation and not some computer model forecast that breaks when asked to hindcast. It's 30 degrees outside and I just tossed another couple logs into the fireplace (forced-air insert -- very efficient). It's like the 1970's all over again. UPDATE: This story was just picked up by Bloomberg Posted by DaveH at November 8, 2012 7:47 PM
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