Pacemaker of the Ice Ages

In 1976, scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory spearheaded a project called CLIMAP (Climate: Long-range Investigation Mapping and Prediction) to map the history of the oceans and climate.

They discovered that ice ages begin or end, almost like clockwork, every 11,500 years. It’s a dependable, predictable, natural cycle … and it works in sync with precession of the equinoxes.

Pacemaker of the Ice Ages, they called it.

They drew up a chart of the cycle (below).

Pacemaker of the Ice Ages

Changes in global ice volume during the last 500,000 years, as determined from CLIMAP isotopic measurements. Chart is from John and Katherine Imbrie’s book Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery, by permission of Enslow Publishers.
Data from J. D. Hays et al., 1976, by permission J. D. Hays.

See the sharp peaks every 100,000 years or so? Each peak marks the abrupt end of a period of warmth similar to today’s and the catastrophic beginning of a new ice age.

See where we are today? (At the far right side of the chart?) We’re at the tip of the highest peak ever, teetering on the knife-edge of disaster. We haven’t been that high on the chart for half a million years.

And do you see what happened–without exception–every time we got that high on the chart?

Instantaneous ice age.

The next ice age could begin any day.

2 thoughts on “Pacemaker of the Ice Ages”

  1. I show this chart to people every time I detect any sort of interest in the whole subject of climate, particularly if they say they’re not totally convinced about global warming. To me, this chart speaks volumes that no amount of words can convey. I even have it on my wall at work!! 🙂

  2. And meanwhile, governments from national to local levels perfect their contingency plans to deal with the inevitable end of the interglacial. What? You mean there are no such plans? 🙁

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