Asked in Global WarmingIce Ages
How can Global warming cause another ice age?
June 15, 2011 7:30AM
Global Warming is really about climate change and the storage of energy in the atmosphere. As our atmosphere becomes larger (increasingly voluminous), it stores more thermal energy radiated from the earth (the earth is heated by the Sun, and the earth re-radiates that energy, as heat, to our atmosphere).
A warmer atmosphere causes more water to evaporate. Also, a warmer atmosphere can store more moisture, and thus becomes a slightly more voluminous atmosphere. Then, the atmosphere can store slightly more heat energy. And evaporate more water. And store it. And store more heat. And on and on until we've got a fairly large, wet atmosphere.
Most precipitation starts as snow... Rain is typically snow that melted on the way down... If we begin to see large, powerful weather systems that dump huge amounts of snow (in say, April?), then lots of Solar energy could be reflected back into space (until say, August?), and we could witness an entire year in which NY or OR or Canada might see snow on the ground. This is how it begins... That one year, should we fail to retain enough solar energy, could result in a permanent cover of snow that will reflect away a huge portion of solar energy for the next ten-thousand years or more. No more summers in Atlantic City. Take up igloo making.
As our atmosphere becomes more polluted with 'greenhouse' gasses, it prevents thermal energy being radiated from the earth (the earth is heated by the Sun, and the earth re-radiates that energy, as heat, to space.
A warmer atmosphere can store more water vapour, also a 'greenhouse' gas. This further decreases the energy radiated away.
In such an unbalanced scenario there are those that claim huge and violent changes in global temperature can take place. Perhaps, precipitating an ice age.
However there are also scenario where the 'greenhouse effect' can 'runaway' and heat the planet significantly, as has happened with Venus.