Carbon Dioxide Linked to End of Last Ice Age

Carbon Dioxide Linked to End of Last Ice Age

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The circumstances that ended the last ice age, somewhere between 19,000 and 10,000 years ago, have been unclear. In particular, scientists aren’t sure how carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, played into the giant melt. New research indicates it did in fact help drive this prehistoric episode of global warming, even though it did not kick it off. A change in the Earth’s orbit likely started of the melt, setting off a chain of events, according to the researchers.

The ambiguity about the end of the ice age originates in the Antarctic. Ice cores from the continent reveal a problematic time lag: Temperatures appeared to begin warming before atmospheric carbon dioxide increased. This has led scientists to question how increasing carbon dioxide — a frequently cited cause for global warming now and in the distant past — factored into the end of the last ice age. Global warming skeptics have also cited this as evidence carbon dioxide produced by humans is not responsible for modern global warming.

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