Twenty thousand years ago, life on earth was much cooler. It was the tail end of a 100,000-year ice age, also called Last Glacial Maximum – and massive ice layers covered much of North America, Northern Europe and Asia. (If they had existed at that time, New York City, Berlin and Beijing would all have been entombed in ice.)
Scientists usually study this chilly spelling in the history of the earth by looking at things like coral fossils and ocean-based sediments, but now a team of shipping scientists have found a piece of the past that blows everyone else out of the water: a true selection of 20,000-year-old seawater, squeezed out of an ancient rock formation from the Indian Ocean. 1
When the researchers tested the composition of these freshly squeezed water samples on board their ships, they were surprised that there was much salt in the water – it was far saltier than the Indian Ocean today. They did more tests on land to look at the specific elements and the isotopes (versions of elements) that made up the water, and all the results seemed inseparable in the modern sea.
In fact, everything about these water samples indicated that they came from a time when the sea was significantly saltier, colder and more chlorinated – just as it was thought to have been during the last ice age, when the ice boxes sank up sea water and sank the sea to hundreds of meters below the stream. levels.
"From all indications, it is quite clear that we now have a real part of the 20,000 year old sea," says lead study author Clara Blättler, assistant professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago in a statement.
About these results actually hold water, the new samples give the first direct look at how the ocean reacted to the geophysical oscillations during the last ice age. This understanding can lead to improved climate models to help understand our own changing world, Blättler says, " which model you build from the climate must be able to accurately predict the past. "
Note: At the time of this article's publication, no one had yet requested to drink the ancient sea juice.
Originally published on Live Science .