In Chapter One, Michael discusses the various proposed causes for ice
I talked with him the other day, and he said he has a new book coming
out that discusses the proposed evidences for ancient ice ages from
An Ice Age caused by the Genesis Flood
By Michael J. Oard
[Edited and condensed by Allen Roy]
The Mystery of the Ice Age
All across Canada, the United States, northern Europe and northwest Asia
glacial evidences can be found where glaciers do not now exist. Many
mountains around the world show obvious signs of once having large
glaciers. Even tropical mountains once had glaciers extending 1000
meters below any existing glaciers.
This evidence largely consists of various formations consisting of rock
debris chaotically mixed in a fine-grained matrix, and other landforms
associated with glaciers. There are abundant end morains of rock debris
winding across the country side which show the southernmost reaches of
the glaciers. There are also many drumlins, mounds which look like
elongated teardrops and were formed beneath the ice cover. In stream
courses that ran under the glaciers, snake like eskers were deposited.
Parallel grooves and ridges of the rock debris along with the other
formations cover large areas across North Dakota, Montana and
Saskatchewan. In other areas, solid rock surfaces are polished,
scratched and grooved. These and many other landforms indicate
glaciation on a scale not found anywhere today.
The big mystery is just this: What caused all the glaciers to come into
existance? And then; What caused them to melt away?
The Requirements for an Ice Age
An Ice Age can occure only when certain climate conditions are met.
Scientists have debated for years just how much different than now that
climate had to be. A reasonable consensus has been reached.
Some scientists once thought that colder winters were the main
requirement. However, winters are already cold enough over most areas
that were once covered by the ancient ice sheets. In fact, winters are
now too cold in many places. Consider Siberia: The temperatures there
average far below zero Fahrenheit in winter, but no glaciers exist.
Cooler winter temperatures in most areas places not produce glaciers.
In order to produce an ice sheet, winter snow must survive the summer
continue to accumulate year by year. Therefore, the crucial season for
glaciation is summer. Summers must be drastically colder than today in
order for the snow to survive. This is one of the reasons the snow
doesn't pile up in Siberia--summers are too warm.
Probably even more important is greater snowfall--enough snow must have
fallen the previous winter to survive until the next winter. If the
snowfall is light, the snow would melt, even during a cooler summer.
Consequently, sufficient snow must also accompany the lower summer
Therefore, the requirements for an ice age are a combination of cooler
summers and greater snowfall than we have today.
Inadequacy of a Uniformitairian Ice Age
How much summer cooling and annual snowfall are required? No one really
In keeping with uniformitairian concepts, most paleoclimatologists
(Scientists who study ancient climates as interpreted from sedimentary
rock formations) have suggested only a modest summer cooling and
increase. A few popular science writers have even made an ice age seem
so easy that the next one is due relatively soon! All that is needed is
a summer cooling over northern Canada of only 4 to 6 degrees Centigrade
and presto--instant Ice Age. But, this threshold has never been
rigorously tested. And, recent research indicates that much more
change is needed to do the job.
A drop in summer temperature of 6 C would of course cause the winter
to melt more slowly and also tend to increase the proportion of of
precipitation as snow. However, the actual snowfall would be smaller
than expected, because the cooler air would hold less moisture. This
factor is a serious problem for uniformitarian ice age theories.
A realistic computer model which closely predicts the observed seasonal
changes of the Decade Glacier, on Baffin Island, was used to test the
astronomical theory of the ice age. Only after reducing the average
summer temperature to 12 C below normal was there a permanent snow cover
in Canada. This temperature range is far below anything actually
observed thus far. And the model did not take into account the drastice
decrease in moisture that the much cooler air could hold. A much further
decrease would actually be needed. As a result of this temperature
criterion, an ice age is extremely difficult to account for, especially
when only present processes are allowed.
Possible Solutions to the Difficulty
Some scientists are aware of the magnitude of the difficulty, but most
are not. Several possible solutions have been proposed:
1: One solution is a climate change initiated by a spring and summer
temperature drop of only 3 C. The amount of winter snow would be
increased, with a greater chance that the snow cover would remain
the summer. This scenario predicts a 150-300% increase in precipitation
acquired from a slightly warmer North Atlantic.
But, as mentioned before, it is doubtful whether the cooler air can hold
the water vapor expected and that the proposed abnormal circulation
last more than one season. Observations show that any cooling of the
land would also quickly cool the North Atlantic and freeze the Labrador
Sea. This would effectively cap off available moisture. No
2: A second possible solution to the difficulty of a uniformitarian ice
age is to propose one extreme year of high snowfall in Canada caused by
brief change in the general circulation of the atmosphere. Hopefully,
this anomally, combined with a solar radiation minimum, could cause the
snow to persist through the summer and start an ice age.
Would this start an ice age? No, it wouldn't even be close, because of
many other variables that come into play: First, the snow cover and the
cooler temperatures that come with the snow cover would generate less
warm-season snow, again due to the drier air. Therefore, by the time
next spring rolled around, the snow cover very likely would be below
normal and would easily melt during the second summer. Second, the
atmospheric circulation would become unfavorable for a build up of more
snow. The storm tracks would be pushed further south and east,
in less precipitation for the area.
3: A third posible solution would call for an increase in cloudiness.
Increased clouds can cause cooler temperatures, especially in summer.
However, summers are presently very cloudy in northeast Canada, so
invoking increased cloudiness does not help the problem.
In summary, the proposed solutions cannot provide the sustained cooling
and heavy snow to glaciate northeastern North America under essentially
uniformitarian conditions. Modern research shows that much more summer
cooling that previously thought is a prerequisite. And doubling the
normal snowfall is not sufficient.
A Multitude of Theories
A large number ot theories have been exposited to account for the ice
age. As of 1968, over 60 theories had been proposed, but all of these
theories have serious difficulties. "Pleistocene phenomena have
an absolute riot of theories ranging from the remotely possible to the
mutually contradictory and the palpably inadequate" (Charlesworth, 1957,
The ice-age theories are usually classed as either extra-terrestrial or
terrestrial. Several of those, which at one time or another have been
popular, will be briefly discussed.
One obvious extra-terrestrial possibility is a decrease in solar
radiation output. Since the sun empowers the climate, researchers have
been trying to correlate small fluctuations of the solar "constant" with
climatic variables. For instance, atmospheric scientists have developed
climate simulation models that are tuned to the present climate. They
then decrease or increase solar radiation and examine how the model
specified changes in climate. This modeling has yielded mixed results,
at best. Some mechanism for relatively large changes in solar radiation
must be found for the theory to be viable. Futhermore, the solar
variations during the past must be known. The theory suffers from a
common problem--it can never be proved or disproved, scientifically.
Another extra-terrestrial theory, the galactic dust cloud theory, states
that ice ages were caused when the earth passed through cosmic dust,
blocking some of the solar radiation. This theory suffers from the
inability of astronomers to map areas of cosmic dust and to predict when
the earth would have passed through these clouds.
There are a large number of terrestrial theories. One of the most
popular is a decrease in the atmospheric gas, CO2. This gas is
transparent to solar radiation but strongly absorbs much terrestrial, or
infrared radiation. Although, the concentration of CO2 in the
is very small, a decrease in CO2 would cause a temperature drop.
However, some scientists cannot see why or how this would happen, or why
CO2 would be lower during ice ages.
Some theories have proposed cooling from volcanic dust. Although
volcanic dust and aerosols will cause cooler temperatures, the volcanic
activity would have to be much larger than today. Each ice age is
believed to have lasted 100,000 years; therefore the frequency of very
large volcanic eruptions would have to be high and continue for a long
time. Since there is no evidence of substantial volcanic activity
throughout the supposed 2,000,000 years of the Pleistocene period, the
volcanic dust theory is not taken seriously.
Two well-known scientists proposed that an ice-free Arctic Ocean would
greatly increase the moisture over higher-latitude continental areas. A
permanent snow and ice cover over land would be formed, increasing the
solar reflectivity of the surface. Resulting cooler temperatures would
cause the Arctic Ocean to freeze over, and the continental ice sheets
would then melt because the atmospheric moisture would be decreased.
Subsequently, the climate warms and the ice on the Arctic Ocean melts,
and the process begins anew. However, uniformitarian researchers
that the Arctic Sea icecap has been in place for the past several
years. Thus, this theory is rejected. At least the importance of a
moisture source was recognized, which is lacking in practically all
theories. (Donn and Ewing, 1968)
An ingenious theory for glaciation proposes that the West Antartic ice
sheet, which is grounded well below sea level, periodically surges into
the ocean due to basal decoupling. This surge would result in increased
solar reflectivity over a greater area of the Southern Hemisphere, and
may initiate and ice age. There are a number of problems with this
theory, one of which is how a small increase in the average reflectivity
in the Southern Hemisphere would trigger an ice age in the Northern
Hemisphere. Researchers also find no evidence for the resulting
catastrophic rise in sea level.
Despite crude modeling efforts, contintal drift cannot be invoked to
initiate Quaternary glaciation, because the continets have been
supposedly in nearly their current configuration since well before the
start of the ice age. But why, then, didn't the ice ages begin much
sooner in the geological time scale? An obvious solution to the problem
has been to propose that mountain building in the late Cenezoic
icecaps that coalesced to form large ice sheets. Further climatic
cooling would cause lower plateau areas to become ice covered.
The problem with this theory is that many mountainous areas are not now
draped in snow and ice, and the ancient ice sheet in northeast Canada
developed at low altitudes. Even during the ice age when local mountain
icecaps developed, for instance, on the Alps and the Tibetan Plateau,
ice did not expand outside the mountainous areas. Other
mountain-building episodes in the past did not cause ice ages. Even
the high mountains of today, ice ages are extremely difficult to account
Mountain building has been called upon to aid other ice-age mechanisms.
By deflect the usual west-to-east tropospheric wind currents, colder air
could flow further south in eastern North America. Unfortunately, the
model, is able to generate only a very modest 2 C average summer
Recent uplift of the mountains may have caused a decrease in the
atmospheric CO2. This rather circuitous, and hypothetical mechanism may
significally decrease the CO2, but still the resulting temperature drop
would be very small.
The Stochastic ice-age theory has become popular with some scientists,
and is backed up by sophisticated mathematical arguments. It states
there should be large fluctuations inherent in the climatic system over
long periods of time. This theory is difficult to test, and essentially
relies on random chance.
Revival of the Astronomical Theory
The last theory that will be discussed is the astronomicl theory of the
ice ages, commonly called the Milankovitch theory, or mechanism.
Although this theory does not state how the series of ice ages began, it
offers a solution to glacial/interglacial fluctuations. Its popularity
has grown immensely during the past 20 years, and there is confidence
that the mystery of the ice age has been solved by it.
The astronomical theory is based upon slight changes in the intensity of
sunlight reaching the earth, which are caused by periodic differences in
the earth's orbit around the sun.
The gravitational pull of the Moon and planets causes three orbital
1: slight changes in the eccentricity of earth's orbit,
2: small variations in the tilt of the earth's axis with the plane
of the ecliptic, and
3: the precession of the equinoxes.
The first variation is considered the main cause of glacial/interglacial
oscillatons, even though this causes, by far, the least change in solar
radiation on the earth.
The earth's slightly elliptical orbit changes from nearly circular to
slightly elliptic, and back supposedly every 100,000 years. The present
eccentricity results in the earth being 3,000,000 miles closer to the
during a Northern Hemisphere winter than summer. An ice age is supposed
to occure during greater eccentricity than now. Since the variations
periodic, the ice ages supposedly occure at regular intervals of 100,000
The theory was first proposed in the late 1800s and helped persuade
scientists to believe in multiple ice ages, rather than just one.
According to the theory at the time, the last ice age ended about 70,000
year ago. Scientific evidence was marshaled to prove this date. Many
details of the astronomical theory were developed much fuller in the
1920s and 1930s by Milutin Milankovitch. According to this 'revised'
astronomical theory, the ice age peaked only about 18,000 years ago.
Accordingly, scientific evidence has since been marshaled to prove this
new date. The previous data was ignored.
This theory was later discarded, for good reasons, during the 1950s and
In the 1970s, the astronomical theory was resurrected through the
influence and stubborn persistence of several eminent scientists. The
theory was "proved," by matching the earth's orbital variations with
slight differences in the oxygen isotopic composition of small
shells that have settled on the bottom of the ocean. As many as 20 or
ice ages, separated by complete melting, are now assumed to have
developed in succession, over the past several million years.
Many serious problems have been overlooked in the enthusiasm for this
theory. The changes in summer sunshine at higher latitudes are actually
too small to cause the dramatic changes needed for an ice age. The
"proof" is really only a statistcal correlation with geological data.
And, the theory does not tell how each ice sheet actually developed.
Furthermore, heating at higher latitudes depends only partially on
sunshine. Northward transport of heat by the atmosphere and oceans is
mostly neglected by proponents of the theory. Meteorologists have known
the weaknesses of the theory for a long time, and these weaknesses
contributed to its earlier downfall. Famous astronomer, Fred Hoyle
(1981, p. 77), expresses his sentiments with the following words:
"If I were to assert that a glacial condition could be induced in a room
liberally supplied during the winter with charged night-storage heaters
simply by taking an ice cube into the room, the proposition would be no
more unlikely than the Milankovitch theory."
The night-storage heaters are the other processes that supply heat to
higher latitudes in winter, and the ice cube represents the slight
cooling of the astronomical theory.
The data from the ocean bottom supposedly show that ice ages repeat
100,000 years. This period appears to match that of the smallest of the
three variations mentioned above. Scientists are greatly perplexed and
are seeking a secondary mechanism to boost the weak orbital variations.
What about Climate Simulations?
Although a uniformitarian ice age seems meteorologically impossible, and
proposed solutions to the problem are inadequate, atmospheric climate
simulations have recently shown that the small changes in solar
proposed by the astronomical theory supposedly do cause ice ages.
Interestingly, the small changes in solar radiation presumed to have
generated ice ages, have been considered adequate only after the
astronomical theory was "proven" by correlations with deep-sea cores.
One variable that is favorable for the development of an ice age in
models, is the albedo (i.e. relfectivity) of snow, which is treated as a
constant with a value of about 0.7. This is a good value for dry,
snow, but is much to high for melting snow (0.4) and especially high for
exposed, glacial ice (0.2).
These models have also generally used unreasonably high values of
precipitation. The precipitation rates run from twice to six times the
average values. With such extremely high values for snowfall and snow
albedo, it should come as no surprise that these models predict an ice
age due to small changes in radiation that are correlated to the
Milankovitch oscillations. One model even predicts that we should be in
an ice age now!
There is a very basic problem with all of these climate models. Even
most sophisticated general circulation model is still too crude for
anything but qualitative results. In other words, we still do not have
sufficient knowledge to justify confidence in climatic reconstructions.
A New Paradigm Needed
On one hand, extensive glacial deposits cover the surface of mid and
latitude continents, providing undeniable evidence for extensive past
glaciation. On the other hand, atmospheric science and related
disciplines stongly suggest that an ice age, which depends upon present
processes (uniformitarianism) is nearly impossible. The only other
possible solution is with a catastrophic mechanism. Such a mechanism
by definition, dramatic, and out of the range of normal experience, but
many scientists are now convinced that a catastrophic mechanism has much
The model presented in this book is based on the historicity of the
Bible, expecially in its account of Creation and the Genesis Flood.
scientific and religious implications are involved. Most men of
150 to 200 years ago, accepted the first 11 chapters of Genesis as
historically valid. Furthermore, these chapters have never been proved
wrong. Instead, they have been arbitrarily rejected by a newer
of scientists who preferred the theory of evolution and the
uniformitarian principle (Gould, 1987). If the reader has difficulty
accepting this starting point, at least evaluate the following
presentation with an open mind. If one does not know both sides of an
issue, he really cannot say he is truly educated on that issue. All
possibilities should be examined carefully.
The solution proposed is tantamount to a paradigm shift in glaciology
the historical sciences. A paradigm is, essentially, a supermodel, or a
set of foundational principles, which determine what is science in a
particular field. It also determines the way research is conducted, and
what problems will be tackled. Paradigms have advantages for scientific
research, but scientists are rarely motivated to critically examine the
basis of their paradigm. Usually, data that don't agree with the
prevailing paradigm are overlooked, ignored, or forced to fit.
Paradigms are engrained into scientists early in their careers, while
they are students. Young scientists tend to accept theories, not on the
evidence, but on the authority of the teacher or textbook, because they
usually do not know the alternatives nor have the competence to make an
independent choice (Kuhn, 1970, p. 80). A wrong paradigm, or, more
commonly, one based on half truth, can dominate for a considerable time,
especially if the paradigm supports the desires of prominent
individuals. A large number of significant anomalies must build up to
invoke a crises sufficient to make scientists recognize new foundational
But: What about the facts? Aren't they scientifically solid? Yes, if
facts are observed facts, and "all" the observations are adequately
described. This last point may not be appreciated. Unfortunately, it
common practice, in science, not to publish negative or inconclusive
studies. The facts on record may just be a biased sample. We must be
careful, even when using "observational" data.
The problem of understanding the ice age is not the "facts," but the
interpretation of those facts. There is rarely just one way to view a
given body of data. "Philosophers of science have repeatedly
demonstrated that more than one theoretical construction can always be
placed upon a given collection of data" (Kuhn, 1970, p.76). So there
be other frameworks within which to place a set of data. Before new
ideas can be entertained and/or accepted, a revision of basic
or a shift to a new paradigm may be needed.
New paradigms practically always advance scientific knowledge, and the
change comes about in a revolutionary manner. Such a change is needed
order to solve the mystery of the ice age. The uniformitarian paradigm
in glaciology and historical sciences has been long dominant. Paradigms
in historical science are much more difficult to change than those in
observaional sciences, because it is almost impossible to objectively
test them. Because of the many anomalies that have been cropping up,
some scientists have already opted for a neo-catastrophism that allows
local catastrophes. The data from geologic investigations are making
strict uniformitarianism more and more difficult to believe. The theory
of evolution--the basis for most of mainstream historical science is
coming under attack, even from non-Christain scientists and
In view of this trend, we will take another look at the global Genesis
Flood and see if it provides a basis for a catastrophic ice age. This
will be a paradigm shift, but will still make use of previously
data. A review of the popular book on the astronomical theory "Ice
Solving the Mystery" (Imbire and Imbrie, 1979) states:
"The earlier chapters make mention of the conflict of religious belief
and scientific theory. The authors would have done well to state that
the conflict is one of basic principles, not of conflicting
observations. The basis of all scientific research into the distant
is the principle of "uniformitariansim", i.e. that the laws of nature
have always been the same as they are now. Research could not proceed
without such an assumption, and the results should be taken as true in
far as that assumption holds. Belief in God's creative and other
activities in the past is not intellectual suicide but the choice of a
different set of basic principles." (Parker, 1980, p. 1986)
The solution to the ice age mystery requires a multidisciplinary
endeavor. The author's expertise is in atmospheric science, and that
will generally be the focus of this book. However, information from
related fields will be brought together to develop a reasonable
Charlesworth, J.K., 1957. "The Quaternary Era." Edward Arnold, London.
Donn, W.L. and M. Ewing, 1968. The Theory of an Ice-Free Arctic Ocean.
in "Causes of Climatic Change," J.M. Mitchell, Jr., ed., Meteorological
Monographs, 8 (30), American Meteorological Society, Boston, pp.
Gould, S.J., 1987. "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle." Harvard University
Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Hoyle, F., 1981. "Ice the Ultimate Human Catastrophe." Continuum, New
Imbrie, J and K.P. Imbrie, 1979. "Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery."
Publishers, New Jersey.
Kuhn, T.S., 1970. "The structure of Scientific Revolutions," 2nd
The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Parker, D.E., 1980. Book Review of "Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery," J.
Imbrie and K.P. Imbrie. "Meteorological Magazine," 109, pp. 185, 186.