Geologists have found out how fast ice melted in Europe after the end of the ice age, and concluded that their ultra-fast cuts caused a kind of “great flood” that flooded the central part of the subcontinent and gave rise to giant rivers, according to an article published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews .
“Our models show that approximately 15-13 thousand years ago, the Eurasian ice shield lost about 750 cubic kilometers of ice every year, at some time the loss rate increased to three thousand cubic kilometers of ice.This time, the so-called epoch of” catastrophic growth No. 1, the melting of the glaciers of Eurasia almost instantly increased the sea level by 2.5 meters, “says Henry Patton of the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.
About three million years ago, the Earth entered the era of the so-called Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation, during which the glaciers on the northern and southern poles periodically attacked and retreated to moderate latitudes. Episodes of their offensive are usually called “glacial periods,” and retreats are called interglacial periods. The last such warming began, as scientists believe today, about 15-12 thousand years ago, and continues to this day.
Before the beginning of this period of warming, the Earth looked completely different than today – the sea level was several dozen meters below the current one, and most of Europe and the north of Asia were covered with glaciers. Britain at that time was not an island, but a peninsula half covered with a polar ice cap.
As Patton tells us, geologists have long wondered how rapidly the glaciers retreated and what consequences this retreat resulted from. For example, recently British scientists have discovered that the rapid melting of ice and associated water flows caused the first, this time geological “Breccet”, forming the English Channel and forcing the future Albion to separate from continental Europe approximately 10 thousand years ago.
Patton and his colleagues analyzed all the available information about how the melting of the ice of Eurasia occurred in different parts of the country, from Britain to Chukotka, and tried to make a complete picture of this process.
As their calculations showed, the ice of the northern continent melted at a record high speed, losing about the same amount of water every hundred years as it is contained in five Baikals, “losing weight” by 750 billion tons every year.
This amount of water, according to scientists, should be enough to completely flood Central and Northern Europe and form giant lakes and freshwater “seas”, in the place of which the Northern, Baltic and White Seas will emerge in the future.
In addition, in France at that time dozens of so-called “mega-rivers” arose-giant waterways that transported water from flooded Central Europe to the Atlantic. According to scientists, these rivers transported about twice as much water as the modern Amazon, and at the same time their pool occupied a much smaller area.
These rivers, as geologists note, have emitted a lot of cold thawed water in order to disrupt the work of the Gulf Stream and other Atlantic currents, which could cause periods of sharp cooling and temporary offensive of glaciers in Scandinavia, Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, which Scientists today call the “late Dryas.”
After several thousand years, when the mega-rivers slowed down a bit, the warming continued, and, according to Patton, the reduction of the polar cap, which began 15,000 years ago, continues to this day. The description of this process and related computer models, scientists hope, will help scientists understand how stable the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and methane deposits are in frozen soil, whose release will dramatically increase global warming.