WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – Scientists report that prehistoric glaciers reacted rapidly to a brief cold snap, providing a rare glimpse of glaciers’ response to past climate change.A new Arctic study in the journal Science is helping to unravel an important mystery surrounding climate change: How quickly glaciers can melt and grow in response to shifts in temperature.

According to the new research, glaciers on Canada’s Baffin Island expanded rapidly during a brief cold snap about 8,200 years ago. The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence showing that ice sheets reacted rapidly in the past to cooling or warming, raising concerns that they could do so again as the Earth heats up.

One of the questions scientists have been asking is how long it takes for these huge chunks of ice to respond to a global climate phenomenon,” said study co-author Jason Briner, PhD, a University at Buffalo associate professor of geology. “People don’t know whether glaciers can respond quickly enough to matter to our grandchildren, and we’re trying to answer this from a geological perspective, by looking at Earth’s history.”

“What we’re seeing,” he added, “is that these ice sheets are surprisingly sensitive to even short periods of temperature change.”

Briner’s colleagues on the study included lead author Nicolas Young, who worked on the study as part of his PhD at UB and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Dylan H. Rood of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre and the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Robert C. Finkel of UC Berkeley.

The research, scheduled to appear in Science on Sept. 14, found that mountain glaciers on Baffin Island, along with a massive North American ice sheet, expanded quickly when the Earth cooled about 8,200 years ago.

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