Did an asteroid collision cause an ice age on Earth?

earthsky.org | 9/19/2019 | Paul Scott Anderson
ajoy26 (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://en.es-static.us/upl/2019/09/asteroid-collision-466-million-years-ago-dust-ice-Sep-18-2019-300x244.jpg

Artist’s concept of the collision between 2 asteroids – some 460 million years ago – that created enough dust to cause an ice age on Earth. Image via Don Davis/Southwest Research Institute/EurekAlert.

Some 460 million years ago, Earth was a frozen world, caught in the grip of a global ice age. For a long time, scientists have been trying to figure what caused this ice age, which occurred in what they call the Ordovician period, and which coincided with a major mass extinction of nearly 61% of marine life. Now they think they may finally know. A new study – announced on September 18, 2019, by the Field Museum in Chicago – suggests the ice age resulted from a collision between two asteroids, not onto Earth, but with each other, in outer space. The collision may have caused much more dust than usual to enter Earth’s atmosphere. The influx of dust may have caused a global cooling that turned Earth into a colder, icier world.

Results - September - Journal - ScienceAdvances

These peer-reviewed results were published on September 18 in the journal ScienceAdvances.

Philipp Heck is one of the paper’s authors and a curator at the Field Museum. He explained in a statement:

Earth - Gains - Tons - Material - Year

Normally, Earth gains about 40,000 tons of extraterrestrial material every year. Imagine multiplying that by a factor of a thousand or ten thousand. Our hypothesis is that the large amounts of extraterrestrial dust over a timeframe of at least two million years played an important role in changing the climate on Earth, contributing to cooling.

Lead author of the research, Birger Schmitz, also at the Field Museum, added:

Results - Time - Dust - Times - Earth

Our results show for the first time that such dust, at times, has cooled Earth dramatically. Our studies can give a more detailed, empirical-based understanding of how this works, and this in turn can be used to evaluate if model simulations...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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