We live in an age where so much information flows around us that we are unable to grasp the important and central ideas of the information. Especially the more complex ones, like scientists. Information overload can sometimes lead to confusion. It speaks of a next glaciation in Spain and that confuses the citizens.
In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the next glaciation in Spain and what it affects.
Table of Contents
Next glaciation in Spain
Scientists are convinced that these two facts are not contradictory, because the key is the time scale. We humans get confused when we think from decades to tens of thousands of years. That is the point.
The age of our planet Earth is 5 billion years. Hominids have existed on the surface of the earth for 5 million years. And we have only existed in history (writing, civilization) for five thousand years. They are all "five", very close, but on very different time scales.
In short, the amount of time we have lived on Earth is insignificant compared to the age of the planet. During its billions of years of existence, Earth's climate has changed dramatically.
In the recent history of the Earth, the climate has changed significantly during periods called ice ages, during which the Earth was almost covered in ice. During these glacial periods, we have interglacial periods. Figure 1 shows us the evolution of temperature in Antarctica during the last 400.000 years (red line). We saw a characteristic sawtooth shape: fast going up and slow going down.
Imagine we are in an ice age. The temperature is very low, the earth is full of ice and suddenly the temperature rises rapidly. We are entering an interglacial period.
So after thousands of years (the cycle is usually around 100.000 years), we are in an ice age again. And the loop repeats. On these time scales, much of the variation in our climate is due to slow changes in the orbits of the planets around the sun, an idea developed by Milankovitch in the first half of the XNUMXth century.
Today we are in an interglacial period. We have a planet that hasn't been filled with ice for thousands of years. Scientists call this period the Holocene. In it appears agriculture, the first great civilization and our history to this day. Everything seems to indicate that the dynamics of the planet will continue and the average temperature of the planet will gradually decrease towards the next ice age. But remember that this cycle lasts about 100.000 years. In other words, there will be no ice age this century, nor the next millennium. It will take place on a peculiar time scale beyond our comprehension, accustomed to the length of human life.
But in the super recent history of Earth's climate, something peculiar has happened. Scientists have been saying for decades that we are seeing unusual and unnatural warming. We found the reason: we are emitting greenhouse gases. Having said that, we are conducting a great experiment on our planet.
We do not know exactly what will happen to the Earth's climate in the coming decades, because it will depend on our own capacity (to emit more or less greenhouse gases). We are already immersed in global warming, and the cycle of glaciations and interglacials will continue, although on an absolutely incomparable time scale for each phenomenon.
Delay of the next glaciation in Spain
According to projections, the next ice age, which marks the end of the warm period we now enjoy, should begin in 1500 years. However, the amount of greenhouse gases accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere could disrupt normal patterns and delay the next ice age by tens of thousands of years.
These are the conclusions of a study from the University of Florida that used astronomical models to calculate the amount of solar heat that reached the Earth's atmosphere during glacial and interglacial periods. According to these models, the current interglacial period will end in 1.500 billion years. However, high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can interfere with Earth's normal cooling patterns because they trap heat reflected from the planet's surface.
While the prospect of more years of warmth before the next ice age is tempting, the truth is that the associated problems could have very serious consequences. "Ice sheets like West Antarctica have been destabilized by global warming," warns Jim Tunnel. When they eventually break up and become part of the ocean volume, the impact on sea level will be huge.
Paradoxically, global warming could lead to a dramatic drop of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius in Europe. A new era has even opened because of the old continent. This may sound paradoxical, but scientists say it could happen if climate change causes a collapse in the Atlantic current system, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). It's already happening. Also, AMOC is approaching its critical threshold. Researchers have issued an urgent warning because ocean current systems are critical to the stability of the global climate.
A new study published in Nature Climate Change and supported by the EU-funded TiPES project, which aims to better quantify the presence of discharge factors in the climate system, highlights how the Atlantic current system, which is the A of the Gulf Stream, seemed to show "clear signs of instability and possible collapse". If this happens, scientists predict it will have "a significant cooling effect on the European climate."
The research was led by Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change (PIK), a member of the TiPES (Tipping Points in the Earth System) consortium. The study found through a detailed examination of contemporary observations and early warning signs, such as salinity patterns in seawater, that AMOCs may have lost their stability over the last century.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about the next glaciation in Spain and what the consequences of climate change are.