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Glaciers Reveal the Regional Nature of Climate Change

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Research into the survival of New Zealand’s glaciers at the end of the last ice age has revealed that climate change in the Northern Hemisphere does not directly affect the climate in the Southern Hemisphere. Indeed, the study showed that future changes to climate may have different impacts in the two hemispheres, so a generalised global approach isn’t the solution to climate issues.

Prof Jamie Shulmeister of The University of Queensland said the study provided evidence for the later survival of significant glaciers in the mountains of New Zealand at the end of the last ice age, when other ice areas were retreating. “This study reverses previous findings which suggested that New Zealand’s glaciers disappeared at the same time as ice in the Northern Hemisphere,” he said.

“We showed that when the Northern Hemisphere started to warm at the end of the last ice age, New Zealand glaciers were unaffected. These glaciers began to retreat several thousand years later, when changes in the Southern Ocean led to increased carbon dioxide emissions and warming. This indicates that future climate change may impact differently in the two hemispheres and that changes in the Southern Ocean are likely to be critical for Australia and New Zealand.”

The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, used exposure dating of moraines –...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.