The Next Ice Age and the Anthropocene

The Next Ice Age and the Anthropocene

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If you’ve wondered where to look for signs that Earth is entering a geological epoch of our own making, the Anthropocene, a good place to start is the growing body of research concluding that what was once seen as an inevitable descent into the next ice age has been put off for a very long time by the building blanket of greenhouse gases generated by humanity’s burst of fossil fuel combustion.

A recent study, led by Chronis Tzedakis of University College, London, examined similarities between the current warm interval between ice ages and a particular point, around 780,000 years ago, during a past warm period known as Marine Isotope Stage 19. Using a variety of methods, the authors conclude that the onset of a new ice age would likely begin about 1,500 years from now, if the concentration of carbon dioxide was back below the levels produced since the Industrial Revolution.

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