According to a study in the journal Nature Geoscience, it looks like it will be at least 1,500 years before the next ice age occurs. Good news, right? Not exactly.
While an ice age may seem like an event only portrayed in history books and Hollywood movies, the fact is that they normally happen every 10,000 to 15,000 years and if we were still on schedule we would be due for another within the next 1,000 – 1,500 years. However, due to the high levels of CO2 in our atmosphere and the climate change that goes along with such conditions, the next ice age has been put off to at least 1,500 years from now, if not much longer:
No glacial inception is projected to occur at the current atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 390 ppmv (parts per million by volume). Indeed, model experiments suggest that in the current orbital configuration—which is characterized by a weak minimum in summer insolation—glacial inception would require CO2 concentrations below preindustrial levels of 280 ppmv. Assuming that ice growth mainly responds to insolation and CO2 forcing, this analogy suggests that the end of the current interglacial would occur within the next 1500 years, if atmospheric CO2 concentrations did not exceed 240?ppmv.
The problem with that is that we are already way over a CO2 concentration of 240 ppmv. If we were still at pre-industrial levels, we may be looking at an ice age within 1,500 years. But because we are well over 240 ppmv already, and are actually hovering around 400 ppmv, the study portrays the ice age as being put off for a little while.
Of course, I think we’ll have much bigger issues than an ice age at the rate we are destroying the environment. I know I wouldn’t want to be living here in 1,000 years or so, even if humans were still in existence. Think rising sea levels, worldwide food shortages, virulent diseases, intense heat waves, and more violent “natural” disasters. An ice age in the distant future is the least of our problems.
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