Ice Age

Topics: Milankovitch cycles, Earth, Climate Pages: 5 (2019 words) Published: December 4, 2006
The book I chose to read is Frozen Earth: Explaining the Ice Age by R. V. Fodor, the associate Professor of Geology at North Carolina State University. It presents the recent discoveries and history of the ice age in an easy-understanding and accessible way. He first begins with a little background of ice ages. He then talks about glaciers and how they form and act. Then he talks about the different theories of how this happened. He concludes with speaking of the future and the climate it possesses. Scientists have discovered that in the past million years, glaciers have covered the Earth's surface on several different occasions. There have been several "ice ages" in the Earth's past, and twenty thousand years ago was Earths most recently recorded. Large blankets of ice covered a large majority of land, forcing man and animals southward. Much of North America was under ice. Seven-thousand years ago the glaciers had melted off and that marked the end of it. Because of the glaciers being such ancient history it is hard for scientists to obtain and interpret data. The study of glaciers and the ice age is relatively new. In Switzerland around 1800, rocks attracted geologists in developing the first ideas of the ice ages. They wondered why large smooth boulders, called erratics, were lying out of place in fields and forests. Charles Lyell argued that icebergs had placed them there. Two other scientists stated that the boulders in the valley floors were similar to those found in the glaciers of the Alps. Louis Agassiz, a Swiss scientist, proved that ice could do this. He showed other scientists of places where large moving ice sheets had scratched and carved the surface of valley walls and floors. He was finally able to prove to the scientists that there had been an ice age. All of many doubts that ice sheets could occupy such large areas of land, were silenced after an expedition to Greenland in 1852. Furthermore, in the 1850s scientists proved that there had been more than one period of colder climates followed periods of warmth. It was believed by the twentieth century that up to four ice ages had occurred during the last million years. Glaciers are large masses of ice. The north and south poles of the globe are covered with snow and ice year-around. These areas with year-around snow are said to be above the snowline. The elevation of a snowline above sea level varies depending on the amount of heat present and the amount of snowfall a certain area receives. Ice glaciers form not only from the freezing of water but also by compaction. The best example of this is; when you balled up some snow when you were a kid and compressed it into a snowball to throw at your friend. Over hundreds of years of built up snow, glaciers form and begin to grow slowly down hill like molasses. These glaciers move from a few inches a day to rarely a couple yards a day. There are glaciers on every continent except Australia. There is actually a glacier the size of the entire United States in Antarctica. In some places it is deep as one mile! An interesting fact about glaciers; there is enough ice in the world to cover all the land in the world and the sheet would be 400 feet deep! They move like rivers through valleys. The top portion of glaciers moves faster than the bottom portion that scrapes and drags on the surface. Scientists discovered the speed of a glacier at the top of Mt. Blanc in Switzerland from the tragic burial of an entire climbing team. Fourty-one years after, there bodies were found ten-thousand feet away at the foot of a glacier. The bodies had moved eight inches a day. Glaciers move relatively slow, but there has been cases of glaciers moving rapidly out of control. The speed depends on the amount of snow being applied to the source of the glacier. Geologists focus on the rocks and moraines at the mouth of the glaciers that have been scoured and carved by the ice. The evidence is...
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