It has been discovered that a dramatic rise in temperature hit Antarctica about 19,000 years ago, followed by an equally sudden decline. Like similar data from Greenland ice cores, this suggests that global climate change may not happen gradually, but that extreme changes can come about very quickly, even without the present human contribution to global warming.
James White, a professor at the University of Colorado, and his colleagues analyzed deep-ice cores drilled in Antarctica over the past 2 years. This finding "gives us a road map to the way big climate changes occur," he said.
It has previously been assumed that a gradual increase in greenhouse gasses would cause a gradual increase in world temperatures. Instead, it now appears as if temperatures could stay relatively stable, as is happening now, and then suddenly soar. Unfortunately, this scenario means that there might be very little warning, if any, that dramatic change is just around the corner.
The study also reveals that global warming, while made worse by the burning of fossil fuels, is essentially a natural phenomenon, and takes place because factors other than human activity may increase the level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. "Dramatic climate changes are natural," said White. "There?s no doubt about that at all."
The same conclusions were reported a year ago by Whitley Strieber and Art Bell in their book "The Coming Global Superstorm," which will be published in paperback in February.
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