Twenty thousand years ago, life on Earth was a lot of cooler. It was the end of a 100,000-year ice age – also called Last Glacial Maximum – and massive sheets of ice covered much of North America, Northern Europe and Asia. (19659002) Scientists are used to studying this chilly spell in Earth's history by looking at things like coral fossils and seafloor sediments , but now a team of seafaring researchers may have found a piece of the past that blows all the others out of the water: an actual sample of 20,000-year-old seawater, squeezed out of an ancient rock formation from the Indian Ocean. 19659002] This finding represents the first direct remnant of the ocean as it appeared during the Earth's last ice age, according to the researchers, who described the findings in a study to be published in the July 201
When the researchers tested the composition of these fresh-pressed water samples onboard their ship, they were surprised to find that the water was extremely salty – Far saltier than the Indian Ocean is today. They made more tests back on the ground to look at the specific elements and isotopes that made up the water, and all the results seemed out of place in the modern ocean.
In fact, everything about these water samples they indicated that they came from a time when the ocean was significantly saltier, colder and more chlorinated – exactly as it was thought to have been during Last Glacial Maximum, when ice sheets sucked up ocean water and dropped sea levels to hundreds of feet below current
"From all indications, it looks pretty clear now that we have a current piece of this 20,000-year-old ocean," lead study author Clara Blättler, an assistant professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, and statement
If these results really hold water, the new samples provide the first direct look at how the ocean reacted to the geophysical swings of the last ice age. This understanding could lead to improved climate models to help understand our own changing world, Blättler said, as "any model you build the climate has to be able to accurately predict the past."
Note: At this time's article Originally published on Live Science .