Life in the Deep Freeze: Ice, Dust, and the Snowball Earth Hypothesis

Just before the dawn of complex life on Earth, the planet experienced two episodes of freezing climate, more extreme than any ice age since. The “Snowball Earth” hypothesis proposes that during this time, the entire planet froze over completely, with glaciers on the equator and the oceans frozen over from pole to pole. Did this actually occur? If so, how did ice, ocean, and atmosphere interact to shape the planet’s climate? Dirt and dust make snowy surfaces on the modern-day Earth darker so they absorb more sunlight: did dust contamination during the Snowball Earth episodes play an important role in determining the Earth’s climate fate? What lessons does this ancient climate system provide for the modern Earth’s future?

Thursday’s Faculty Lunch Talk will be presented by Jason Goodman, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy.  The talk is scheduled for Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. in President’s Dining Room.