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Naked Science - Big Freeze
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If you think you’re safe living in the peaceful climate of today, think again.
Evidence shows that our planet has plummeted into periods of intense cold time and time again in the past. The question is: When will we next freeze over?
Naked Science reveals how massive volcanic eruptions can cause global temperatures to drop for up to two years. We fly into an active volcano to collect samples of the gases that form a “global mirror” reflecting sunlight away from the Earth, causing these drops.
The small changes in climate that volcanoes cause often start a domino effect of social and political disasters, resulting in a total reshuffling of life on our planet. The most recent “Earth changing” eruption occurred 1,500 years ago. These events can create or destroy civilisations and cultures, and form much of the modern world we live in today. But ominously these volcanically induced drops in temperature are just a blip compared to other drops that have occurred in the past.
Evidence shows that time after time our planet nose-dives into Freezes that last over a thousand years. The effects on life are catastrophic. Entire species are wiped off the face of the planet. The last of these thousand year Big Freezes happened 11,500 years ago and pushed countless animals to extinction.
These huge Big Freezes can be caused by changes in our oceans. Our oceans constantly flow in a circuit called the Great Ocean Conveyor. This transports cold water to the equator and transports warm water to the poles. But sometimes this system shuts down triggering massive climatic changes around the world and triggering a Big Freeze that lasts a thousand years.
In a bizarre twist, it’s when our planet undergoes warming that these shut-downs occur. Worryingly Global Warming, today, might actually cause the Great Ocean Conveyor to shut-down triggering a devastating Big Freeze. Evidence shows that this shut-down might already be underway.