Encroaching Universe

April 2, 2011

Check out this animation of the Snowball Earth Hypothesis. This animation from Essentials of Geology by Stephen Marshak and Rita Leafgren shows the four proposed stages to the formation and destruction of Snowball Earth conditions:

1) During “normal” climate periods there are ice caps at the poles; sea level rises and falls.
2) During “metastable” climate times ice sheets expand and contract dramatically.
3) “Runaway snowball” conditions develop and ice nearly envelopes the Earth; atmospheric carbon dioxide is not absorbed by the frozen ocean.
4) The rising concentration of unabsorbed carbon dioxide gas leads to a “runaway greenhouse effect”; Earth warms and the ice shell rapidly vanishes.

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