It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Now, a team of scientists from Japan, the US, and Switzerland suggests that the North American continent is the breeding ground for these cycles. It's a region where climate and the ice's effect on the Earth's crust play off each other to draw out the length of a glacial cycle triggered by changes in solar radiation that come with changes in Earth's orbit.
This feedback between climate and ice becomes most dramatic at the end of the cycle, when an ice sheet that has bulldozed its way too far south and gotten too heavy for its own good meets up with a warming climate.
The study, led by Ayako Abe-Ouchi, a climate scientist at the University of Tokyo and the National Institute of Polar Research, resulted from a unique approach to modeling ice ages.
The study provides "good insights that clearly advance our understanding" of ice ages, notes Penn State University glaciologist Richard Alley, who was not involved in the study, in an e-mail. It also confirms aspects of ice ages that researchers have well in hand, he says.
The approach linked individual atmosphere, crust, and ice models in a way that needed only information on the amount of sunlight reaching Earth to generate ice-sheet behavior over the past 400,000 years that geologists have gleaned from more than a century of field studies.
Changes in the amount of solar radiation striking Earth come with changes in Earth's orbit occurring at intervals of 41,000, 23,000, and 19,000 years.
The study reaffirms that changes in the amount of summer sunlight striking northern high latitudes sets the process in motion. Indeed, changes to the shape of Earth's orbit over time, as well as long-term changes in the orientation of its axis, and their impact on solar radiation at high northern latitudes were the most significant astronomical influences in the team's simulations.
Still, the researchers "make a convincing case" that North America's shape and location on the globe, as well as the slow recovery of the crust as the ice begins to melt turn variations in solar radiation occurring in cycles measured in a few tens of thousands of years into a 100,000-year glacial cycle.
What makes North America so special?
"Maybe that's because the mountains deflect the polar jet stream farther south," says Dr. Raymo, referring to a high-altitude river of air that forms the boundary between cold polar air and warmer air to the south. Deep southward meanders in that river during modern winters can bring snow to regions where it's rare, such as the US Southeast. Or perhaps during the last glacial maximum the ice sheet covering Scandinavia was vulnerable to warm Atlantic Ocean water, she adds. "We don't know, in fact that's the next work we're doing – experiments to try to investigate that," she says.
The current solar activity cycle, possibly the weakest in 100 years, is approaching its maximum. This may signal a future low period for the sun, probably not unlike the one that caused the so-called Little Ice Age from the mid-16th to mid-19th centuries.
Solar activity can be easily monitored by the number of sun spots. Regular recordings of the phenomenon have been available since the middle of the 18th century, with the star’s activity reaching peaks about every 11 years. The current Solar Cycle 24, is about to pass its prime in a matter of months, according to observations.
Maunder Minimum is a period between about 1645 and 1715, in which sunspots became extremely rare. In fact some 18th century astronomers believed sunspots to be a myth. The period coincides with the so-called Little Ice Age, a time when the climate became cold enough for the River Thames in London to freeze in winter. On the gloomier side, the colder summers and harsh winters sealed the fate of the Viking colonies in Greenland, as its population starved and died out.
Climate is influenced by natural changes that affect how much solar energy reaches Earth. These changes include changes within the sun and changes in Earth’s orbit.
Changes occurring in the sun itself can affect the intensity of the sunlight that reaches Earth’s surface. The intensity of the sunlight can cause either warming (during periods of stronger solar intensity) or cooling (during periods of weaker solar intensity). The sun follows a natural 11-year cycle of small ups and downs in intensity, but the effect on Earth’s climate is small.  
Changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit as well as the tilt and position of Earth’s axis can also affect the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface.  
Originally posted by TDawgRex
But it will happen over time, I don't foresee a "Day After" moment.
When this does happen (and we are certain it will), it will cause untold "disruption". Those within the vicinity will be incinerated as temperatures from the lava flow can reach up to 500 degrees, meaning all surrounding cities will be utterly destroyed. If you somehow managed to survive the fast flowing lava, the thick ash cloud that would rain down would choke you to death. All the states surrounding Wyoming would certainly perish very quickly.
The UK and the rest of Earth would not escape. We would all be affected, wherever we were. Global temperatures would plummet by at least 21 degrees. This could last for many years, meaning that all plant life will slowly die off. We will have no vegetables; animals -- our meat -- will have no food, so humankind would likely starve.
Originally posted by poet1b
A point I didn't see made, is that N America is moving south west at about an inch a year.