Global warming may cancel next ice age

Finally, there’s some “good” news about global warming.

All that carbon dioxide we’ve emitted into the atmosphere could mean no more ice ages any time soon, new research says.

Most research into the effects of the carbon dioxide accumulating in our atmosphere has looked ahead only to the next century or two.

But the emitted carbon dioxide isn’t just going to disappear after that. Research has shown that some of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now will hang around for quite awhile, probably tens or even hundreds of thousands of years.

The effects of burning fossil fuels today will extend long beyond the next couple of hundred years, possibly delaying the onset of Earth’s next ice age, more properly called a glacial period, says researcher Toby Tyrrell of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

[See link below for full article….]

Tyrrell and his colleagues used a model to study what would happen if carbon dioxide continued to be emitted and how that would affect the long-term balance of carbon dioxide in the air and the ocean’s chemistry.

The ocean is absorbing some of the carbon dioxide emitted into the air, which is causing it to become more acidic. Similarly, the bubbles of carbon dioxide dissolved in your soda are what give it acidity.

Tyrrell and his team’s model shows that carbon dioxide levels will be higher far into the future than previously predicted, because the acidifying ocean will dissolve more calcium carbonate from the shells of marine organisms, which acts as a buffer against acidification.

But this buffer can only help to a certain point, and eventually the ocean won’t be able to take up any more carbon dioxide.

“It can’t just keep taking it up,” said Joan Kleypas of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was not involved in the study.

The model results, detailed in a recent issue of the journal Tellus, project that 8 to 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere will remain there for thousands of years, causing levels of the greenhouse gas to equilibrate in the atmosphere at twice their pre-industrial levels.

“It won’t go back to original levels,” Kleypas told LiveScience.

[See link below for more….]

Andrea Thompson,, 9 September 2007. Article.

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