Just how cold was the Ice Age exactly?

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Sep 02, 2020, 07:21 PM(IST)

A screengrab made on July 14, 2017 from a video released by the British Antarctic Survey shows the rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, on the Antartic Peninsula, in February 2017 Photograph:( AFP )

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After studying ocean plankton fossils and climate models, scientists have reached a conclusion on exactly how cold the last Ice Age was

Ever wondered just how cold the last Ice Age was? Were there only glaciers scattered across the planet with no vegetation in sight? Scientists know the exact answer.

After studying ocean plankton fossils and climate models, scientists have reached a conclusion on exactly how cold the last Ice Age was. 

The last Ice Age covered swathes of land across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, even places were ice is not common.

Ecuadorian paleontologist Jose Luis Roman, cleans the jaw of a toxodon found at the Azuay province (Ecuadorian Andes), at the paleontology laboratory of the Escuela Politecnica Nacional (National Polytechnic School) in Quito on August 18, 2020. Ecuadorian paleontologist Jose Luis Roman, curator of the paleontology collection of Quito's National Polytechnic School (EPN), who recently discovered -with the help of Argentinian investigators- a species of giant owl that lived 40,000 years ago, is now searching for tiny mice teeth to recreate the Ice Age in the Andes of Ecuador.Ecuadorian paleontologist Jose Luis Roman, cleans the jaw of a toxodon found at the Azuay province (Ecuadorian Andes), at the paleontology laboratory of the Escuela Politecnica Nacional (National Polytechnic School) in Quito on August 18, 2020. Ecuadorian paleontologist Jose Luis Roman, curator of the paleontology collection of Quito's National Polytechnic School (EPN), who recently discovered -with the help of Argentinian investigators- a species of giant owl that lived 40,000 years ago, is now searching for tiny mice teeth to recreate the Ice Age in the Andes of Ecuador. | AFP

 

Officially referred to as the “Last Glacial Maximum”, the Ice Age which happened 23,000 to 19,000 years ago witnessed an average global temperature of 7.8 degree Celsius (46 F), which doesn’t sound like much, but is indeed very cold for the average temperature of the planet. The Ice Age was 7 degrees Celsius colder than the average global temperature in 2019, the research posits.

Also read: Oldest and largest Ice Age 'mammoth house' found in Russia

Scientists also found inconsistencies in the temperatures around the globe. Some regions were a lot cooler than the others. Naturally, poles were the coolest, while the tropics were less affected. 

In fact, the Arctic region alone witnessed a temperature 14 degree Celsius (25 F) higher than the global average.

The scientists reached the conclusion with the assistance of “temperature proxy” - which are observations from fossils of zooplankton and other preserved structures and how they reacted to change in water temperatures.

View of a jaw of the rodent subfamily Sigmodontinae, found at the Cordillera (mountain range) de Cutucu, at the paleontology laboratory of the Escuela Politecnica Nacional (National Polytechnic School) in Quito on August 18, 2020. Ecuadorian paleontologist Jose Luis Roman, curator of the paleontology collection of Quito's National Polytechnic School (EPN), who recently discovered -with the help of Argentinian investigators- a species of giant owl that lived 40,000 years ago, is now searching for tiny mice teeth to recreate the Ice Age in the Andes of Ecuador.View of a jaw of the rodent subfamily Sigmodontinae, found at the Cordillera (mountain range) de Cutucu, at the paleontology laboratory of the Escuela Politecnica Nacional (National Polytechnic School) in Quito on August 18, 2020. Ecuadorian paleontologist Jose Luis Roman, curator of the paleontology collection of Quito's National Polytechnic School (EPN), who recently discovered -with the help of Argentinian investigators- a species of giant owl that lived 40,000 years ago, is now searching for tiny mice teeth to recreate the Ice Age in the Andes of Ecuador. | AFP
 

Based on this, the information was juxtaposed with global climate model simulations to find out the average global temperatures.

The lead author of the study, Jessica Tierney from the University of Arizona believes that such understanding may help understand what to expect in the future.

Also read: Oldest known asteroid collision ended Earth's 'ice age': Study

The Ice Age lasted from about 115,000 to 11,000 years ago, and saw mammals that were adapted to cold climate roam the planet. These included mammoths, mastodons, woolly rhinos, and saner-toothed cats among many.

It was during the Ice Age that humans entered North America for the first time ever. They crossed over through a bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska when sea levels were lower than they are today.

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