What caused the ice ages? Tiny ocean fossils offer key evidence

The Extinction Chronicles

DECEMBER 10, 2020

https://phys.org/news/2020-12-ice-ages-tiny-ocean-fossils.html?fbclid=IwAR3Yvv5PsX9bObsuEYXRS1eyffwir99o93K-yXW9g9mAfeZAoFZDAzbbpXw

by Liz Fuller-Wright, Princeton University

What caused the ice ages? Tiny ocean fossils offer key evidence
This diatom species, Fragilariopsis kerguelensis, is a floating algae that is abundant in the Antarctic Ocean and was the major species in the samples collected for the study by Princeton University and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. These microscopic organisms live near the sea surface, then die and sink to the sea floor. The nitrogen isotopes in their shells vary with the amount of unused nitrogen in the surface water. The researchers used that to trace nitrogen concentrations in Antarctic surface waters over the past 150,000 years, covering two ice ages and two warm interglacial periods. Credit: Philipp Assmy (Norwegian Polar Institute) and Marina Montresor (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn)

The last million years of Earth history have been characterized by frequent “glacial-interglacial cycles,” large swings in climate that are linked to the growing and shrinking of massive, continent-spanning ice sheets…

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