Keeping it Cool
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage Ceylon Today Features
The Ice Age movies are a lot of fun, thanks to its funny, interesting characters and the exciting adventures they get to go on. Although the movies do tell a fun story, it’s not exactly the best place to learn about the actual Ice Ages that happened on Earth. Today, we’re going to learn all there is to about the ice ages, so read on to learn more.
What’s an ice age?
You probably have heard plenty about global warming haven’t you? With all that’s going on, it’s becoming a problem that’s going to be bad for us and all life on Earth. This isn’t the first time the Earth has experienced global warming, but the problem is that we are making it happen too fast for the planet to keep up. Much like global warming, the Earth can sometimes experience what is called global cooling.
When that happens, temperatures drop and it gets cold; very cold. Cold enough that the ocean starts to freeze, and a huge chunk of the planet freezes over too, covered in sheets of ice. When this happens, a new ice age begins. The last ice age wasn’t all that long ago. Only around 10,000 years ago according to geologists (Gee-oh-logists). These people are scientists who study the earth and how it has changed over the many millions of years it existed. But that wasn’t the only ice age. Think of it like a long winter season, that happens on Earth every 100,000 years or so. This is the way it has been for the past 800,000 years or so.
You’re probably wondering how this all happens. Geologists have been asking the same question for quite some time as well. It wasn’t until mathematician Milutin Milankovitch did a lot of complicated maths problems which gave the answer. Turns out the secret was in the earth’s orbit around the sun and its rotation. But this isn’t the only reason. Some environmental conditions also need to be met, for example, a sudden drop in carbon dioxide levels in the air can play a big part in the creation of a new ice age as well.
What happens during an ice age?
When an ice age happens, most of the water in the sea turns into ice, meaning that the sea level goes down, and more land is revealed. Sometimes, lands that were separated because of the sea wouldn’t be anymore because of that, and animals could start travelling between places that they couldn’t before. The sudden increase in cold would also mean that animals would have to evolve to colder climates.
Woolly mammoths from the last ice age is a good example of that. The Earth gets a whole new facelift as well because of the sheets of ice that slowly form into glaciers. Glaciers are huge masses of ice that can literally carve the land into new shapes. A lot of new lakes can also form during this process. The Great Lakes; the biggest lakes in the world today are a result of glaciers from the last ice age.
Can it happen again?
We are what you would call a break time, after an ice age has already passed. But one day, the Earth will once again, have an ice age, but that’s a long time away. It happens very slowly, over tens of thousands of years. So don’t worry. You’ll be able to enjoy the heat for a long time to come.