CO2 drop and global cooling caused Antarctic glacier to form

Zhonghui Liu, Pagani’s postdoctoral associate who is now an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. Further, he said, the substantial cooling that occurred in both Northern and Southern high latitudes suggests that a decline in CO2 level, rather than a localized change of ocean circulation drove the climate transition.

The ice formed over Antarctica in about 100,000 years, which is an “overnight” shift in geological terms. “Just over thirty-five million years ago, ‘poof,’ there was an ice sheet where there had been subtropical temperatures before,” said Co-author Matthew Huber of Purdue University.

Another theory refuted by this study is the notion that ice-expansion also occurred in the Northern Hemisphere during this time — a supposition poorly supported by physical evidence of glacier formation in that region, say the Yale scientists.

There are about 70 meters of vertical sea level rise represented in the ice sheets of Antarctica. And, there are many questions regarding the glacier’s stability, the temperature thresholds that would cause radical glacier melting, and the rate at which it would change, according to Pagani. “Our findings point to the difficulty of modeling accurate temperatures under higher CO2 in this critical region.”


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