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Scientiae Studia

versión impresa ISSN 1678-3166versión On-line ISSN 2316-8994


LEITE, José CORREA. From the mystery of ice ages to abrupt climate change. Sci. stud. [online]. 2015, vol.13, n.4, pp.811-839. ISSN 2316-8994.

The ice age problem was the first and, until a few decades ago, the only relevant debate on climate change, emerging as a discussion in geology, which was unable to frame it. It remained a mystery in the nineteenth century, being discussed in mathematics and astronomy, and it was a matter of speculation in geophysics and geochemistry without a satisfactory solution. The basic explanation for the occurrence of ice ages was given by Milankovitch, by means of his mathematical theory of insolation in the 1940s. Nevertheless, only the consolidation of paleoclimatology, in the 1970s, provided the necessary evidence to prove it. The refinement of these studies in paleoclimatology, however, brought to light an unexpected phenomenon: the transition between equilibrium state in the climate system took place very quickly in the past. Climate change in the Pleistocene Ice Age was abrupt and radical, contrary to any gradualism. Therefore, the current global warming should be seen as a much more dangerous and unpredictable phenomenon, in comparison with the way it is usually presented.

Palabras clave : Ice ages; Paleoclimatology; Pleistocene; Holocene; Meteorology; Climate science; Global warming; Climate change; Ice cores.

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