A perfect storm of fire and ice may have led to snowball Earth

Watts Up With That?

From the HARVARD JOHN A. PAULSON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING AND APPLIED SCIENCES
Explaining a ‘once-in-a-billion-year event’

About 700 million years ago, runaway glaciers covered the entire planet in ice. Harvard researchers modeled the conditions that may have led to this so-called ‘snowball Earth’.
CREDIT (Image courtesy of NASA)

What caused the largest glaciation event in Earth’s history, known as ‘snowball Earth’? Geologists and climate scientists have been searching for the answer for years but the root cause of the phenomenon remains elusive.

Now, Harvard University researchers have a new hypothesis about what caused the runaway glaciation that covered the Earth pole-to-pole in ice.

The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters. (paywalled)

Researchers have pinpointed the start of what’s known as the Sturtian snowball Earth event to about 717 million years ago — give or take a few 100,000 years. At around that time, a huge volcanic event devastated…

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