A Short Circuit in Thermohaline Circulation: A Cause for Northern Hemisphere Glaciation?

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Science  16 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5388, pp. 436-438
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5388.436

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The cause of Northern Hemisphere glaciation about 3 million years ago remains uncertain. Closing the Panamanian Isthmus increased thermohaline circulation and enhanced moisture supply to high latitudes, but the accompanying heat would have inhibited ice growth. One possible solution is that enhanced moisture transported to Eurasia also enhanced freshwater delivery to the Arctic via Siberian rivers. Freshwater input to the Arctic would facilitate sea ice formation, increase the albedo, and isolate the high heat capacity of the ocean from the atmosphere. It would also act as a negative feedback on the efficiency of the “conveyor belt” heat pump.

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