Swampy expansion spurred Little Ice Age in 17th centuryMarch 3rd, 2009 - 3:43 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, March 3 (ANI): A new study has indicated that a vast expansion of swampy wetlands across North America may have invoked the Little Ice Age, a two-centuries-long cold snap that gripped the northern hemisphere starting in the 1620s.
Scientists have argued for years over what caused the planet to abruptly cool during this time, invoking everything from volcanic eruptions to reduced solar activity to a pandemic that killed millions and effectively wiped out the Incan and Aztec empires in the New World.
The only known factors is that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere fell by around 10 parts per million at this time, mountain glaciers expanded, and global temperatures dropped by as much as 0.5 degrees Centigrade (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit).
Swamps, bogs and marshes may have contributed to the cooling. Their oxygen-poor waters are graveyards for carbon-rich plant matter, sequestering it away from the atmosphere.
According to a report in Discovery News, in a study of 144 wetland areas across North America, a team of researchers led by Sarah Finkelstein of the University of Toronto found that they expanded en masse across North America around the time of the Little Ice Age.
We cant quantify exactly how much carbon was sequestered in wetlands at that time, Finkelstein said. But we know it was a continent-wide effect. If you look in Europe and Asia, Im sure youll see the same thing going on, she added.
She thinks that some large trigger event - either solar activity or volcanic eruptions - may have started the cooling and led to more rainy weather.
As wetlands expanded, they gobbled up carbon, which chilled the northern hemisphere further. (ANI)
- Volcanoes played pivotal role in ice age that caused mass extinction 450 mln yrs ago - Oct 27, 2009
- New model to measure organic carbon in surface waters - Mar 05, 2011
- Earth's rotation, not human activity caused 'methane level increase' - Feb 07, 2011
- Volcanoes 'may have kick-started life on Earth' - Mar 22, 2011
- Volcanic eruptions affect rainfall over Asian region - Nov 05, 2010
- Ocean cooling 'contributed to global warming hiatus during mid-20th century ' - Sep 23, 2010
- Gigantic planets holding billions of tonnes of diamonds - Dec 06, 2011
- Carbon dioxide dictated global climate patterns of the past - Jun 18, 2010
- Thousands of skeletons found in London pit - Aug 06, 2012
- NZ glaciers melted as European expanded at the end of ice age - Sep 09, 2010
- Shrinking snow and ice cover 'making global warming worse' - Jan 19, 2011
- Scientists discover deep ocean current near Antarctica - Apr 26, 2010
- Volcanic eruptions affect Asian rainfall - Nov 04, 2010
- Succulent plants emerged after Earth cooled, dried up - May 04, 2011
- Scientists may have solved mystery of disappearing CO2 on Mars - Sep 24, 2010
Tags: 17th century, bogs, cold snap, degrees fahrenheit, discovery news, finkelstein, global temperatures, graveyards, little ice age, marshes, mountain glaciers, northern hemisphere, pandemic, plant matter, rainy weather, solar activity, university of toronto, volcanic eruptions, wetland areas, wetlands