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Ancient Arctic Warming without CO2 Changes?

Ocean waves at sunset: Photo 40719072 © Ejmilesfineart |

[Originally published in 2013 as “Ice-free Arctic” wrong conclusion based on flawed geological history]

An alarming headline on Science News reads, “Ice-Free Arctic May Be in Our Future, International Researchers Say.“ This report provides a classic example of how researchers’ flawed understanding of earth’s geological history leads them to seriously wrong conclusions. Their conclusions actually fly in the face of the evidence they report, and in this case, it could cause unnecessary panic about a situation that will not happen.

The report explains that researchers analysed a long continental drill core that covers the period of the Pleistocene ice age.

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Analyses of the longest continental sediment core ever collected in the Arctic, recently completed by an international team led by Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, provide “absolutely new knowledge” of Arctic climate from 2.2 to 3.6 million years ago.

As soon as they quote dates of this magnitude, it confirms that they are looking at the evidence through the lens of uniformitarianism—they are extrapolating present processes into the past. It’s this assumption that leads to age interpretations of hundreds of millions of years.

This philosophy ignores biblical history and the global Flood of Noah’s time, some 4,500 years ago. Biblical geologists interpret the period covered by their drill core as early post-Flood. (The Pliocene they mention may be very late Flood—the closing weeks of it.) The post-Flood Ice Age lasted for a period of some 700 years. It was driven by warmer oceans that were heated by the volcanic activity that occurred during the Flood.

And not surprisingly Brigham-Grette et al. discover exactly what creationist geologists have been talking about for decades: the climate in the Arctic was warmer in the past.

“One of our major findings is that the Arctic was very warm in the middle Pliocene and Early Pleistocene [~ 3.6 to 2.2 million years ago] when others have suggested atmospheric CO2 was not much higher than levels we see today.

In other words, CO2 was not a factor in the higher ocean temperature.

The problem is that because uniformitarians deny that the biblical Flood happened and ignore its consequences, they cannot explain the Pleistocene Ice Age, for which the geologic evidence is very clear. So, even though their research shows that the warm oceans were not correlated with CO2 levels, that is not what they concluded. Rather, the authors still maintained that CO2 was a factor because they already believed it was.

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“In other words, the Earth system response to small changes in carbon dioxide is bigger than suggested by earlier climate models,”

This conclusion is almost unbelievable.

The quality of scientific research into past climates and the factors that drive them would be greatly improved if researchers were better read on biblical geology. As it is, researchers do not seem to be able to see that their models do not work (see Noah’s Flood and global warming).

Creationist models of the post-Flood Ice Age have been discussed in creationist literature for decades and are the only models that provide a plausible mechanism for the cause of the Ice Age. (For more information, go to and search for Ice Age.) According to these models, earth’s past climate was not driven by CO2. Rather it was a consequence of the enormous global thermal disturbance of the Flood. In the centuries after the Flood, the earth’s heat balance returned to equilibrium, and its climate stabilized.

Update 15 May 2013:
Originally the text of this blog article incorrectly said the researchers found “the oceans were warmer,” but it now correctly says they found “the climate in the Arctic was warmer in the past.” Thanks to Ashely Haworth-Roberts for pointing this out.

Creation scientists have been talking about warmer climates in this area for a long time. See, for example The extinction of the Woolly Mammoths.
And creationist scientists have long considered warm oceans as the cause of the warm climate. See, for example, Rapid changes in oxygen isotope content of ice cores which presents oxygen-isotope evidence from ice cores suggesting the oceans were warmer immediately after the Flood.

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Tas Walker with mountain in the background 2017

Written by Dr. Tas Walker

Tas holds a B.Sc. (Earth Science with first class honours), a B.Eng (hons) and a doctorate in mechanical engineering, all from the University of Queensland. Tas now works full-time for Creation Ministries International (CMI) in Brisbane, where he is employed as a researcher, writer and speaker. He has authored many articles in both Creation magazine and the Journal of Creation (formerly TJ).

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