Before climate change: Falling rocks set fire to 10% of land, trigger mini ice age for 1000 years
Another day, another apocalypse. Life in a perfect climate
Poor sods. After 90,000 dismal cold years things were finally just warming up when a bunch of comet fragments from a a 62 mile-wide comet, crashed into our atmosphere. It was around 13,000 years ago, and the fireballs started the ultimate black Saturday blaze which converted 10 million square kilometers of wilderness into unauthorized carbon emissions*. Somehow, all those reckless greenhouse gas additions didn’t seem to stop the airborne dust triggering a return to a mini ice age for a thousand years. It also punched a hole in the ozone layer meaning everyone probably had to wear more yak-fat sunscreen or get more skin cancer (I suspect data is bit lean on that).
Glaciers started growing again, some ocean currents changed and thus the Younger Dryas unfolded according to a couple of new papers.
In a fairly dramatic shift of landscaping styles, mother nature razed whole pine forests and replaced them with poplars.
Gaia is full of surprises: in the end, falling lumps of ice set fire to 10% of land on Earth, and making 10,800BC the worst carbon footprint since the last 62 mile wide rock hit Earth. Primitive tribes blamed each other and tried to stabilize the climate by banning cooking fires.
Thirteen thousand years later, and homo snowflakus is worried about seas rising by 1mm a year, and the ABC is worried about an alarming surge in large fires.
Anyhow, it’s an interesting theory. Published in Science Daily.
On a ho-hum day some 12,800 years ago, the Earth had emerged from another ice age. Things were warming up, and the glaciers had retreated.
Out of nowhere, the sky was lit with fireballs. This was followed by shock waves.
Fires rushed across the landscape, and dust clogged the sky, cutting off the sunlight. As the climate rapidly cooled, plants died, food sources were snuffed out, and the glaciers advanced again. Ocean currents shifted, setting the climate into a colder, almost “ice age” state that lasted an additional thousand years.
Finally, the climate began to warm again, and people again emerged into a world with fewer large animals and a human culture in North America that left behind completely different kinds of spear points.
This is the story supported by a massive study of geochemical and isotopic markers just published in the Journal of Geology.
The results are so massive that the study had to be split into two papers.
“Extraordinary Biomass-Burning Episode and Impact Winter Triggered by the Younger Dryas Cosmic Impact ~12,800 Years Ago” is divided into “Part I: Ice Cores and Glaciers” and “Part 2: Lake, Marine, and Terrestrial Sediments.”
The paper’s 24 authors include KU Emeritus Professor of Physics & Astronomy Adrian Melott and Professor Brian Thomas, a 2005 doctoral graduate from KU, now at Washburn University.
“The work includes measurements made at more than 170 different sites across the world,” Melott said.
The KU researcher and his colleagues believe the data suggests the disaster was touched off when Earth collided with fragments of a disintegrating comet that was roughly 62 miles in diameter — the remnants of which persist within our solar system to this day.
“The hypothesis is that a large comet fragmented and the chunks impacted the Earth, causing this disaster,” said Melott. “A number of different chemical signatures — carbon dioxide, nitrate, ammonia and others — all seem to indicate that an astonishing 10 percent of the Earth’s land surface, or about 10 million square kilometers, was consumed by fires.”
According to Melott, analysis of pollen suggests pine forests were probably burned off to be replaced by poplar, which is a species that colonizes cleared areas.
Indeed, the authors posit the cosmic impact could have touched off the Younger Dryas cool episode, biomass burning, late Pleistocene extinctions of larger species and “human cultural shifts and population declines.”
“Computations suggest that the impact would have depleted the ozone layer, causing increases in skin cancer and other negative health effects,” Melott said. “The impact hypothesis is still a hypothesis, but this study provides a massive amount of evidence, which we argue can only be all explained by a major cosmic impact.”
- Wendy S. Wolbach et al et al a lot (2018) Extraordinary Biomass-Burning Episode and Impact Winter Triggered by the Younger Dryas Cosmic Impact ∼12,800 Years Ago. 1. Ice Cores and Glaciers. The Journal of Geology, 2018; 000 DOI: 10.1086/695703
- Wendy S. Wolbach and another lot of et als (2018). Extraordinary Biomass-Burning Episode and Impact Winter Triggered by the Younger Dryas Cosmic Impact ∼12,800 Years Ago. 2. Lake, Marine, and Terrestrial Sediments. The Journal of Geology, 2018; 000 DOI: 10.1086/695704W