Ruth Mitchell

No Day After Tomorrow for East Asia

The extreme effects of climate change depicted in the movie The Day After Tomorrow may not be quite true where East Asia is concerned, according to a new study. A study led by Newcastle University revealed that dramatic changes in temperature, which in the film saw huge ice balls falling on Tokyo, are unlikely to affect East Asia in such a drastic manner – especially by comparison with North Atlantic nations.Researchers studied the period from 16,000 - 10,000 years ago as they believe that climate change patterns experienced in that period are similar to those we are experiencing today. Around 12,000 years ago, the world experienced a huge surge in cold temperatures - known as the ‘Younger Dryas’ cold reversal event - that lasted around 1,000 years. Some scientists expect that current global warming will trigger a repeat of this cold surge in years to come, a scenario enacted in the blockbuster movie. For the study, researchers analysed fossilised pollen samples contained in the sediment taken the bottom of Lake Suigetsu in Japan. Pollen samples can indicate the changes in the type of vegetation over time, which in turn indicates changes in the climate. By comparing information from this material with statistics from the present day, the researchers were able to determine the change in temperature and precipitation over time for the period from 16,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago.The statistics reflected a cold surge at around 12,000 years but temperatures only fluctuated slightly - an estimated 5 degrees centigrade decrease in winter and no more than three degrees centigrade decrease in summer. These results suggest that East Asia reacted differently to global warming 12,000 years ago. If the pattern is repeated as researchers expect it to, the same effect is likely the next time a cold surge happens. The researchers suggest that this is because the Asian monsoon front largely acts as a barrier from the effect of North Atlantic cooling, so temperature predictions will apply to Japan and other lands east of the monsoon barrier. The research is published in the July issue of Geology, the journal from the Geological Society of America.

Explore these topics

Our Partners

Top Ten Most Read