Don't let anyone tell you that Ice Ages take thousands of years to happen. After all, anyone that researches what happened to the Woolly Mammoths some 10,000 to 11,000 years ago in the tundra of northern Siberia will understand that an Ice Age and massive climate change can occur in not thousands of years—not even years—but months.
And those dead mammoths were found flash-frozen with undigested food still in their stomachs. Frozen so quickly and thoroughly that the natives that unearthed them ate some of the meat with no ill effects.
Now scientist William Patterson, at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, has proven that if the North Atlantic circulation current is stopped the entire northern hemisphere rapidly falls into a mini Ice Age. How rapid? Mere months.
Researchers had thought that the process could take tens of years or more.
The reason that an Ice Age develops so swiftly has to do with the warmth of the ocean current. Without that warming circulation ice sheets quickly grow. The last time this occurred civilization collapsed.
Less than 13,000 years ago a "Big Freeze" hit the northern climes. Called the "Younger Dryas," the Ice Age lasted approximately 1,300 years.
It happened because sudden surges of fresh water invaded the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. A huge glacial in North America overflowed and poured untold billions upon billions of gallons of water into the salt water, diluting it. Lake Agassiz literally dumped all its water into the oceans over a period of days. The gigantic lake contained more water than all the other great lakes combined.
When the fresh water diluted the salinity of the seawater, the North Atlantic conveyor belt stopped and the Ice Age began.
Although previous ice core samples seemed to indicate that the process took decades, new evidence has been discovered in Greenland that an amazingly abrupt climate change from a temperate climate to a new Ice Age erupted in a matter of months—perhaps two years at the very most.
Discussing the revelation, Patterson believes a "Big Freeze" can happen again. "If the Greenland ice sheet melted suddenly it would be catastrophic."
Recently indications are it may do just that. "A University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Sebastian H. Mernild and colleagues from the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark discovered that from 1995 to 2007, overall precipitation on the ice sheet decreased while surface ablation—the combination of evaporation, melting and calving of the ice sheet—increased." They published the results of the study in the journal Hydrological Processes.
Their research also showed that the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting much faster than thought at a rate 50 percent faster than during the 20th Century.
And the melt rate is accelerating.
Patterson, presented his research team's findings at the European Science Foundation BOREAS conference on humans in the Arctic, in Rovaniemi, Finland.
With the relatively recent increase in volcanic activity, the possibility of a geomagnetic reversal, and the expectations of a dramatic "cool down" in the sun, an Ice Age is on our doorstep. Some think we may have already entered the early stages.
During an Ice Age the regions to the extreme north melt and become ice free. The ice moves south, ringing the Earth like a donut. The donut hole is over the arctic ocean at the top of the world. Evidence shows that parts of far northern Alaska, Siberia and Greenland warmed slightly before freezing again.
Such a scenario could correlate with Patterson's findings.
If true, many populated areas would become unlivable. Perhaps the UK and Scandinavia would suffer the most.