Magazine article Geographical

Iceberg Deposits Point to Ice Age Conveyor Failure

Magazine article Geographical

Iceberg Deposits Point to Ice Age Conveyor Failure

Article excerpt

Analysis of particles carried and dumped into the Atlantic Ocean by icebergs during the last ice age has shown that the warm Gulf Stream probably switched off during that period.

Dr Barbara Maher of the University of Lancaster mapped magnetic sediments on the ocean floor to test a model developed by Dr Grant Bigg of the University of East Anglia that shows that North Atlantic currents can switch between two main states.

The state in action today, the Northern Sinking State, moves warm water north from the subtropics, contributing to temperate weather in Northern Europe. The returning water has to sink below the so-called Atlantic Conveyor, giving the state its name. The Southern Sinking State removes the conveyor from the Northern Hemisphere, with the sinking process occurring in the Southern Ocean.

Controversy surrounds the question of whether or not the Atlantic Conveyor switched off during the last ice age, 18,000 years ago.

In order to test the model, Maher looked for sediments that were carved from land by glaciers. …

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