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Climate: Does the Southern Ocean hold the ice age key?

Abysmal waters play huge role in global carbon cycles

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass, and sometimes look thick and oily, probably because it's so cold. Click on the photo to learn about some of the environmental issues in Antarctica.

The water in the Antarctic Sound can be smooth as glass. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The remote Southern Ocean, encircling Antarctica, may be a key driver of the carbon cycle, inhaling and exhaling enough carbon to help shift the global climate in and out of ice ages.

For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what exactly, along with the known wobbles in Earth’s journey around the sun, may cause the huge shifts that lead to vast ice sheets covering many of the planet’s land masses. Continue reading

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Study shows how Aboriginal Australians weathered climate change impacts during last ice age

‘Extreme climate change results in the fundamental social and economic reorganization’

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Ice age research offers clues on climate change impacts.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The peak of the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago, resulted in huge changes for Aboriginal Australians, who had to deal with expanding deserts, big reductions in rainfall and plummeting temperatures.

“Lakes dried up, forests disappeared, deserts expanded, animals went extinct and vast swaths of the Australian land mass would have been simply uninhabitable,” said Sean Ulm, with James Cook University in Cairns, explaining that the Last Glacial Maximum was the most significant climatic event ever faced by humans in Australia.

To assess how those climatic changes affected aboriginal populations, scientists used advanced geospatial techniques to analyze archaeological radiocarbon dates from across Australia. The research included scientists with the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales, Oxford University in the United Kingdom and Simon Fraser University in Canada. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Continue reading

Climate: Sea level rise linked to Antarctic ice sheet collapse

New coral study in Tahiti sheds more light on global warming tipping points

Sea ice remnants linger on the shore of Dundee Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Historically, climate change has generally proceeded on a geologic time scale, with small and incremental changes that would be hard to discern on a year-to-year basis.

But during certain periods of rapid transition — between glacial and interglacial periods, for example, the whole system speeds up. One such event occurred about 14,600 years ago, as the world emerged from an ice age.

After closely studying coral reefs in Tahiti, a team of international researchers say a dramatic rise in sea level during what’s known as the Bølling warming corresponds to a rapid collapse of massive ice sheets. Continue reading

Ancient skull gives new clues on history of dogs

Research suggests multiple origins of domestic breeds

A profile of the Siberian dog skull shows the shortened snout and crowded teeth that helped scientists determine this ancient animal was domesticated. PHOTO COURTESY NIKOLAI D. OVODOV.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Archaelogists who found a well-preserved, 33,000-year-old dog skull in Siberia and compared with similarly aged skull found in Belgium have come closer to discovering how man domesticated his best friend.

The new evidence suggests that domestication of dogs may have occurred repeatedly in different geographic locations rather than with a single domestication event. Different breeds of dogs may have originated from more than one ancient ancestor, contrary to what some DNA evidence previously has indicated — inother words, chihuahuas may not have much in common with a rottweilers. Continue reading

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