Where To Be In An Ice Age Glacial

Reblogged from Musings from the Chiefio:

I ran into a lot of maps and folks showing them in web pages when I searched on “Ice Age Glacial Map”. They show an interesting image of the world as it was, that is likely how our world will become. Remember that the Glacial mode takes 100,000 years to reach maximum extent. It can become very cold inside 20+ years, but forming a mile high glacier is a mass-transport problem and is rate limited by snow rates. So while many of these maps show the “end game”, there’s a LOT of time to get there. About 20 years to get cold (perhaps already in progress…). Then the glacier advances, on average, about 800 feet / year. One short stroll on one Saturday per year keeps you ahead of the glacier (though you might need to do one / month in some years and none in others).

First up, this map showing what the natural plant life was like:

Last Glacial Maximu Vegetation

Last Glacial Maximu Vegetation

Click to embiggen greatly. Note that the type 26 Grey is ice. Switzerland has an issue as there’s an ice cap there too. Then type 15 is Polar & Alpine Desert. Not going to grow a lot of food there. Type 16, that pink / magenta color, the Temperate Desert and type 7 the light tan Tropical Extreme Desert also cover lots of the planet and don’t grow much of use. There are other semi-desert and similar low productivity areas too.

The bottom line is that Russia, Canada, and all of North and Eastern Europe are toast (or ice…) and will need to find a new place to live. Then Africa doesn’t have much where they can actually grow any crops, so that Billion people? Um… China, out back, gets demolished, but the more southern and coastal areas survive – but on what food? South East Asia is OK, while Northern Australia gains a bunch (as long as they can keep the invasion out…). South America loses the Argentine production, Brazil does OK, with a loss of a lot of forest, the Andes gets a giant ice cap so those Nations will have big issues (Many present cities are at altitude to avoid the tropical heat…).

Which leaves us with the USA. We don’t do too badly, in comparison. We lose the Canadian Border States to some extent, but that’s likely thousands to 10s of thousands of years in the future; as it takes a long time for that ice sheet to form. We’ll be able to grow “Canadian like” crops there for a good while. Looking across from West to East most of the land is: 18 dark gray Forrest Steppe, 12 dark red Semi-Arid Temperate Woodland Scrub (not that much of the western desert goes this way), 21 dark blue Sub-Alpine Parkland, 23 olive green Temperate Steppe Grassland, 24 purple Main Taiga, 11 brown Open Boreal Woodland, and in Florida 12 red Semi-arid Temperate Woodland or Scrub. Pretty much all of that is “farmable” in one way or another.

Of note, Taiga is an interesting land vegetation type:


Taiga (/ˈtaɪɡə/; Russian: тайга́, IPA: [tɐjˈɡa]; possibly of Turkic or Mongolic origin), also known as boreal forest or snow forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruces, and larches.

The taiga is the world’s second-largest land biome. In North America, it covers most of inland Canada, Alaska, and parts of the northern continental United States. In Eurasia, it covers most of Sweden, Finland, much of Norway, some of the Scottish Highlands, some lowland/coastal areas of Iceland, much of Russia from Karelia in the west to the Pacific Ocean (including much of Siberia), and areas of northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan (on the island of Hokkaidō). However, the main tree species, the length of the growing season and summer temperatures vary. For example, the taiga of North America mostly consists of spruces; Scandinavian and Finnish taiga consists of a mix of spruce, pines and birch; Russian taiga has spruces, pines and larches depending on the region, while the Eastern Siberian taiga is a vast larch forest.

A different use of the term taiga is often encountered in the English language, with “boreal forest” used in the United States and Canada to refer to only the more southerly part of the biome, while “taiga” is used to describe the more barren areas of the northernmost part of the biome approaching the tree line and the tundra biome. Hoffman (1958) discusses the origin of this differential use in North America and why it is an inappropriate differentiation of the Russian term. Although at high elevations taiga grades into alpine tundra through Krummholz, it is not exclusively an alpine biome; and unlike subalpine forest, much of taiga is lowlands.

So, essentially, much of the Heartland becomes Sweden / Canada / Siberia. Not great, but people do live there. Not going to get 2 or 3 crops a year of corn and soybeans, but… well, Kale IS edible ;-‘)

The map is from: http://wiki.iceagefarmer.com/wiki/Main_Page that has a fascinating story of a very special chicken. As I’m fond of heirloom farm species selected for particular conditions, this interested me:

Sidebar On Chickens

Want a chicken that does well in the cold? Here’s your chicken:

Featured Article
Icelandic Chickens

The Story of Icelandic Chickens

Icelandic chickens originated with the settlement of Iceland in the tenth century by the Norse, who brought their farmstead chickens with them. (In Iceland they are known as Íslenska landnámshænan or “Icelandic chicken of the settlers.”) Over the centuries, selection favored breeders capable of feeding themselves on Icelandic smallholdings, and hens with reliable mothering skills. The result was a landrace of active, naturally healthy fowl adapted to harsh conditions, on the small side (mature cocks weigh 4½ to 5¼ pounds; hens, 3 to 3½ pounds), with good egg production, even in winter. (A landrace is a group of domesticated stock selected for utilitarian traits only—not to conform to specific breed standards, such as for color, pattern, or comb style.)

For a thousand years, the only chickens in Iceland were of this robust landrace. But the 1930s brought importations of strains of Leghorns for more commercial egg and chicken production. Inevitably, those chickens were crossed with the natives—the pure landrace was in danger of being lost. Efforts to conserve the native population began in the 1970s. The success of those efforts was followed by importation of these genetically priceless birds into other countries, including the United States.

Had I a small holding on a mountain somewhere with occasional snow, I’d be getting a small flock of these guys going now.

Back On Maps

It looks to me like that vegetation map is a bit optimistic about Tibet:

Polar view InterGlacial as black, Glacial Maximum as gray

Polar view InterGlacial as black, Glacial Maximum as gray

Also click to embiggen greatly. Note the big gray blob over Tibet / North India. Compare that to a night light map of India and you see a lot of folks live in that cooler areas up the mountains. That’s gonna be a problem…

There’s a fair number of interesting maps at these links:


A different set of maps. In particular there is a set of maps of the UK showing change of ice cover over the years from about 27 ky BP to 27 ky BP. It is likely that the series, run backwards and a bit slower, would show the future of the UK.

Recent Years in the UK end of Glaciation

Recent Years in the UK end of Glaciation

End Game Maximum Glacial Extent over UK

End Game Maximum Glacial Extent over UK


Has some interesting maps like this one showing how screwed Europe will be:

Glacial Maximum Europe

Glacial Maximum Europe

In particular, notice the scattered Ice Caps of Glaciers over the mountain tops, and how much is non-farmable “tundra”. Europe is dead other than the old Neanderthal stomping grounds in Spain / France and the Mediterranean areas with lots of water contact in Italy / Greece. So get that Italian Villa now 😉

And he has attribution for where he got things so lots of opportunities to “dig here” and find more maps, so for that one:

Source: http://www.metatech.org/07/ice_age_global_warming.html

The Glacial Max Wiki has a different vegetation map in it.

Wiki map of Glacial Maximum Vegetation

Wiki map of Glacial Maximum Vegetation

In Conclusion

So there you go. Pick your place and make your plans. Me? I’m going to Florida… But don’t wait too long, it could start any millennium now… 😉

Greenland Is Way Cool

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

As a result of a tweet by Steve McIntyre, I was made aware of an interesting dataset. This is a look by Vinther et al. at the last ~12,000 years of temperatures on the Greenland ice cap. The dataset is available here.

Figure 1 shows the full length of the data, along with the change in summer insolation at 75°N, the general location of the ice cores used to create the temperature dataset.

Figure 1. Temperature anomalies of the Greenland ice sheet (left scale, yellow/black line), and the summer insolation in watts per square metre at 75°N (right scale, blue/black line). The red horizontal dashed line shows the average ice sheet temperature 1960-1980.

I’ll only say a few things about each of the graphs in this post. Regarding Figure 1, the insolation swing shown above is about fifty watts per square metre. Over the period in question, the temperature dropped about two and a half degrees from the peak in about 5800 BCE. That would mean the change is on the order of 0.05°C for each watt per square metre change in insolation …

From about 8300 BCE to 800 BCE, the average temperature of the ice sheet, not the maximum temperature but the average temperature of the ice sheet, was greater than the 1960-1980 average temperature of the ice sheet. That’s 7,500 years of the Holocene when Greenland’s ice sheet was warmer than recent temperatures.

Next, Figure 2 shows the same temperature data as in Figure 1, but this time with the EPICA Dome C ice core CO2 data.

Figure 2. Temperature anomalies of the Greenland ice sheet (left scale, yellow/black line), and EPICA Dome C ice core CO2 data, 9000 BCE – 1515 AD (right scale, blue/black line)

Hmmm … for about 7,000 years, CO2 is going up … and Greenland temperature is going down … who knew?

Finally, here’s the recent Vinther data:

Figure 3. Recent temperature anomalies of the Greenland ice sheet.

Not a whole lot to say about that except that the Greenland ice sheet has been as warm or warmer than the 1960-1980 average a number of times during the last 2000 years.

Finally, I took a look to see if there were any solar-related or other strong cycles in the Vinther data. Neither a Fourier periodogram nor a CEEMD analysis revealed any significant cycles.

And that’s the story of the Vinther reconstruction … here, we’ve had lovely rain for a couple of days now. Our cat wanders the house looking for the door into summer. He goes out time after time hoping for a different outcome … and he is back in ten minutes, wanting to be let in again.

My best to all, rain or shine,


Melting ice sheets release tons of methane into the atmosphere, study finds

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

From EurekAlert!

Public Release: 3-Jan-2019

Melting ice sheets release tons of methane into the atmosphere, study finds

University of Bristol


Melting ice sheet release tons of methane into the atmosphere, study finds

The Greenland Ice Sheet emits tons of methane according to a new study, showing that subglacial biological activity impacts the atmosphere far more than previously thought.

An international team of researchers led by the University of Bristol camped for three months next to the Greenland Ice Sheet, sampling the meltwater that runs off a large catchment (> 600 km2) of the Ice Sheet during the summer months.

As reported in Nature, using novel sensors to measure methane in meltwater runoff in real time, they observed that methane was continuously exported from beneath the ice.

They calculated that at least six tons of methane was transported to their measuring site from this portion of the Ice Sheet alone, roughly the equivalent of the methane released by up to 100 cows.

Professor Jemma Wadham, Director of Bristol’s Cabot Institute for the Environment, who led the investigation, said: “A key finding is that much of the methane produced beneath the ice likely escapes the Greenland Ice Sheet in large, fast flowing rivers before it can be oxidized to CO2, a typical fate for methane gas which normally reduces its greenhouse warming potency.”

Methane gas (CH4) is the third most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere after water vapour and carbon dioxide (CO2). Although, present in lower concentrations that CO2, methane is approximately 20-28 times more potent. Therefore smaller quantities have the potential to cause disproportionate impacts on atmospheric temperatures. Most of the Earth’s methane is produced by microorganisms that convert organic matter to CH4 in the absence of oxygen, mostly in wetlands and on agricultural land, for instance in the stomachs of cows and rice paddies. The remainder comes from fossil fuels like natural gas.

While some methane had been detected previously in Greenland ice cores and in an Antarctic Subglacial Lake, this is the first time that meltwaters produced in spring and summer in large ice sheet catchments have been reported to continuously flush out methane from the ice sheet bed to the atmosphere.

Lead author, Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, from Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, said: “What is also striking is the fact that we’ve found unequivocal evidence of a widespread subglacial microbial system. Whilst we knew that methane-producing microbes likely were important in subglacial environments, how important and widespread they truly were was debatable. Now we clearly see that active microorganisms, living under kilometres of ice, are not only surviving, but likely impacting other parts of the Earth system. This subglacial methane is essentially a biomarker for life in these isolated habitats.”

Most studies on Arctic methane sources focus on permafrost, because these frozen soils tend to hold large reserves of organic carbon that could be converted to methane when they thaw due to climate warming. This latest study shows that ice sheet beds, which hold large reserves of carbon, liquid water, microorganisms and very little oxygen – the ideal conditions for creating methane gas – are also atmospheric methane sources.

Co-researcher Dr Elizabeth Bagshaw from Cardiff University added: “The new sensor technologies that we used give us a window into this previously unseen part of the glacial environment. Continuous measurement of meltwater enables us to improve our understanding of how these fascinating systems work and how they impact the rest of the planet.”

With Antarctica holding the largest ice mass on the planet, researchers say their findings make a case for turning the spotlight to the south. Mr Lamarche-Gagnon added: “Several orders of magnitude more methane has been hypothesized to be capped beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet than beneath Arctic ice-masses. Like we did in Greenland, it’s time to put more robust numbers on the theory.”


This study was a collaboration between Bristol University, Charles University (Czechia), the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, Newcastle University, the University of Toronto (Canada), the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Cardiff University (UK), and Kongsberg Maritime Contros (Germany). It was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), with additional funds from the Leverhulme Trust, the Czech Science Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Fond de Recherche Nature et Technologies du Québec (Canada).

Paper: ‘Greenland melt drives continuous export of methane from the ice sheet bed’ by Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, Jemma L. Wadham, et al. Nature, Doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0800-0

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