Charles Q. Choi
December 2, 2009
In the film, “The Day After Tomorrow,” the world gets gripped in ice within the span of just a few weeks. Now research now suggests an eerily similar event might indeed have occurred in the past.
Looking ahead to the future, there is no reason why such a freeze shouldn’t happen again — and in ironic fashion it could be precipitated if ongoing changes in climate force the Greenland ice sheet to suddenly melt, scientists say.
Starting roughly 12,800 years ago, the Northern Hemisphere was gripped by a chill that lasted some 1,300 years. Known by scientists as the Younger Dryas and nicknamed the“Big Freeze,” geological evidence suggests it was brought on when a vast pulse of fresh water — a greater volume than all of North America’s Great Lakes combined — poured into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.