Did the Flood Trigger the Ice Age?
If uniformitarian scientists have severe difficulties accounting for ice ages, how would creationists explain an ice age or multiple ice ages? Let’s start with the recent ice age.
When attempting to account for ice ages, the uniformitarian scientists do not consider one key element—the Genesis Flood. What if there truly were a worldwide Flood? How would it have affected the climate? A worldwide Flood would have caused major changes in the earth’s crust, as well as earth movements and tremendous volcanism. It would have also greatly disturbed the climate.
A shroud of volcanic dust and aerosols (very small particles) would have been trapped in the stratosphere for several years following the Flood. These volcanic effluents would have then reflected some of the sunlight back to space and caused cooler summers, mainly over large landmasses of the mid and high latitudes. Volcanoes would have also been active during the Ice Age and gradually declined as the earth settled down. Abundant evidence shows substantial Ice Age volcanism, which would have replenished the dust and aerosols in the stratosphere.7 The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets also show abundant volcanic particles and acids in the Ice Age portion of the ice cores.8
An ice age also requires huge amounts of precipitation. The Genesis account records the “fountains of the great deep” bursting forth during the Flood. Crustal movements would have released hot water from the earth’s crust along with volcanism and large underwater lava flows, which would have added heat to the ocean. Earth movement and rapid Flood currents would have then mixed the warm water, so that after the Flood the oceans would be warm from pole to pole. There would be no sea ice. A warm ocean would have had much higher evaporation than the present cool ocean surface. Most of this evaporation would have occurred at mid and high latitudes, close to the developing ice sheets, dropping the moisture on the cold continent. This is a recipe for powerful and continuous snowstorms that can be estimated using basic meteorology.9 Therefore, to cause an ice age, rare conditions are required—warm oceans for high precipitation, and cool summers for lack of melting the snow. Only then can it accumulate into an ice sheet.
The principles of atmospheric science can also estimate areas of high oceanic evaporation, the eventual depth of the ice, and even the timing of the Ice Age. Numerical simulations of precipitation in the polar regions using conventional climate models with warm sea surface temperatures have demonstrated that ice sheets thousands of feet thick could have accumulated in less than 500 years.10
A Rapid Ice Age
Most creationists agree that there was one major Ice Age following the Flood. The timing of the Ice Age is quite significant, since uniformitarians claim that each ice age over the past 800,000 years lasted about 100,000 years. To estimate the time for a post-Flood Ice Age, we need to know how long the volcanism lasted and the cooling time of the oceans. Once these two mechanisms for the Ice Age wane, the ice sheets will reach a maximum and then begin to melt. So, an estimate of the time for the Ice Age can be worked out based on the available moisture for snow and the cooling time of the ocean (the primary mechanism) in a cool post-Flood climate.
I used budget equations for the cooling of the ocean and atmosphere, which are simply based on heat inputs minus heat outputs—the difference causing the change in temperatures. Since there is no way to be precise, I used minimums and maximums for the variables in the equations in order to bracket the time. The best estimate is about 500 years after the Flood to reach glacial maximum with an average ice and snow depth of about 2,300 feet (700 m) in the Northern Hemisphere and 4,000 feet (1,220 m) on Antarctica.11
Once the conditions for the Ice Age ended, those ice sheets in unfavorable areas melted rapidly. Antarctica and Greenland, possessing a favorable latitude and altitude, would continue to grow during deglaciation and afterward. To calculate the melting rate for the ice sheets over North America and Eurasia, I used the energy balance over a snow cover, which gives a faster rate than the uniformitarians propose based on their models.
An energy balance equation is a straightforward and more physical method of calculating the melt rate. Using maximum and minimum values for the variable in the melt equation, I obtained a best estimate of the average melt rate along the periphery (a 400-mile [645-km] long strip) of the ice sheet in North America at about 33 feet/year (10 m/year). Such a melting rate compares favorably with current melt rates for the melting zones of Alaskan, Icelandic, and Norwegian glaciers today. At this rate, the periphery of the ice sheets melts in less than 100 years. Interior areas of ice sheets would melt more slowly, but the ice would be gone in about 200 years. The ice sheets melt so fast, catastrophic flooding would be expected, such as with the bursting of glacial Lake Missoula described later in this chapter.
Therefore, the total length of time for a post-Flood Ice Age is about 700 years. It was indeed a rapid Ice Age. This is an example of bringing back the Flood into earth history. As a result, processes that seem too slow at today’s rates were much faster in the past. The Flood was never disproved; it was arbitrarily rejected in the 1700s and 1800s by secular intellectuals in favor of slow processes over millions of years.