"VITAL ARTICLES ON SCIENCE/CREATION'
No. 168 - THE ICE AGE AND THE GENESIS FLOOD
By Michael J. Oard, M.S.'
The origin of the ice age has greatly perplexed uniformitarian
scientists. Much cooler summers and copious snowfall are
required, but they are inversely related, since cooler air is
drier. It is unlikely cooler temperatures could induce a change
in atmospheric circulation that would provide the needed moisture.
As a result, well over 60 theories have been proposed.
"Pleistocene phenomena have produced an absolute riot of
theories ranging 'from the remotely possible to the mutually
contradictory and the palpably inadequate.' "
A uniformitarian ice age seems meteorologically impossible.
The necessary temperature drop in Northern Canada has been
established by a sophisticated energy balance model over a snow
cover. Summers must be 10' to 120C cooler than today, even with
twice the normal winter snowfall.2
The Milankovitch mechanism, or the old astronomical theory,
has recently been proposed as the solution to the problem.
Computer climate simulations have shown that it could initiate an
ice age, or at least glacial/interglacial fluctuations. However,
an in-depth examination does not support this. The astronomical
theory is based on small changes in solar radiation, caused by
periodic shifts in the earth's orbital geometry. It had been
assumed too weak to cause ice ages by meteorologists, until the
oscillations were "statistically" correlated with oxygen isotope
fluctuations in deep-sea cores. The latter cycles are believed
related mostly to glacial ice volume, and partially to ocean
paleotemperature, although the exact relationship has been
controversial. The predominant period from cores was correlated
to the 100,000-year period of the earth's eccentricity, which
changes the solar radiation at most 0. 17%.3 This is an
infinitesimal effect. Many other serious problems plague the
astronomical theory.4,,' Although models can test causal
hypotheses, Bryson says they ". . are not sufficiently advanced,
nor is our knowledge of the required inputs, to allow for climatic
reconstruction. . .'16
'Mr. Oard is a meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Bureau,
The climate change following the Genesis Flood provides a
likely catastrophic mechanism for an ice age. The Flood was a
tremendous tectonic and volcanic event. Large amounts of volcanic
aerosols would remain in the atmosphere following the Flood,
generating a large temperature drop over land by reflecting much
solar radiation back to space. Volcanic aerosols would likely be
replenished in the atmosphere for hundreds of years following the
Flood, due to high post-Flood volcanism, which is indicated in
Pleistocene sediments.7 The moisture would be provided by strong
evaporation from a much warmer ocean, following the Flood. The
warm ocean is a consequence of a warmer pre-Flood climate and the
release of hot subterranean water during the eruption of "all the
fountains of the great deep" (Genesis 7:11). The added quantity
of water must have been large to cover all the pre-Flood
mountains, which were lower than today. Evaporation over the
ocean is proportional to how cool, dry, and unstable the air is,
and how fast the wind blows.8 Indirectly, it is proportional to
sea-surface temperature. A IOOC air-sea temperature difference,
with a relative humidity of 50%, will evaporate seven times more
water at a sea surface temperature of 30'C than at O'C. Thus, the
areas of greatest evaporation would be at higher latitudes and off
the east coast of Northern Hemisphere continents. Focusing on
Northeast North America, the combination of cool land and warm
ocean would cause the high level winds and a main storm tract to
be parallel to the east coast, by the thermal wind equation.9
Storm after storm would develop near the eastern shoreline,
similar to modern-day Northeasters, but with much more moisture,
and would drop frequent heavy snow over the continent. Once a
snow cover is established, more solar radiation is reflected back
to space, reinforcing the cooling over land, and compensating for
The ice sheet will grow as long as the large supply of
moisture is available, which depends upon the warmth of the ocean.
Thus, the time to reach maximum ice volume will depend upon the
cooling time of the ocean. This can be found from the heat
balance equation for the ocean, with reasonable assumptions of
post-Flood climatology and initial and final average ocean
temperatures. However, the heat lost from the ocean would be
added to the atmosphere, which would slow the oceanic cooling and
regulate the rate of ice growth. It would also cause a "mild" ice
age with cool summers and warm winters. The time to reach maximum
ice volume must also consider the heat balance of the post-Flood
atmosphere, which would strongly depend upon the severity of
volcanic activity. Considering ranges of volcanism and the
possible variations in the terms of the balance equations, the
time for glacial maximum ranges from 250 to 1300 years.10
The average ice depth at glacial maximum is proportional to
the total evaporation from the warm ocean at mid and high
latitudes, and the transport of moisture from lower latitudes.
Since most snow in winter storms falls in the colder portion of
the storm, twice the precipitation was assumed to fall over the
cold land than over the ocean. Some of the moisture re-evaporated
from non-glaciated land would end up as snow on the ice sheet, but
this effect should be mostly balanced by summer runoff.
The average depth of ice was calculated at roughly half uniformitarian
estimates. The latter are really unknown. As Bloom states,
"Unfortunately, few facts about its thickness are known
.. we must turn to analogy and theory. . . ."'l2
The time to melt an ice sheet at mid-latitudes is
surprisingly short, once the copious moisture source is gone. It
depends upon the energy balance over a snow or ice cover.12
Several additional factors would have enhanced melting.
Crevassing would increase the absorption of solar radiation, by
providing more surface area.13 The climate would be colder and
drier than at present, with strong dusty storms that would tend to
track along the ice sheet boundary. The extensive loess sheets
south of and within the periphery of the past ice sheet attest to
this. Dust settling on the ice would greatly increase the solar
absorption and melting. A mountain snowfield in Japan was
observed to absorb 85% of the solar radiation after 4000 ppm of
pollution dust had settled on its surface."
Earth scientists believe there were many ice ages-perhaps more
than 30-in regular succession during the late Cenozoic based on
oxygen isotope fluctuations in deep-sea cores." However, the ocean
results have many difficulties, and sharply conflict with the
long-held four-ice-age continental scheme. Before the early 20th
century, the number of ice ages was much debated. Some scientists
believed in only one ice age, but the sediments are complex and
have evidence of anywhere from one to four, or possibly more till
sheets, separated by non-glacial deposits. Four ice ages became
established mainly from gravel terraces in the Alps, and
reinforced by soil stratigraphy. Much has been learned about
glacial behavior and sedimentation since then. The Alps terraces
are now viewed as possibly ". . a result of repeated tectonic
uplift cycles-not widespread climatic changes per se."16 Variously
weathered "interglacial soils" between till sheets are complex,
and practically always have the top organic horizon missing. It
is difficult to know whether they are really soils." Besides, the
rate of modern soil formation is unknown, and depends upon many
complex factors, like the amount of warmth, moisture, and time.18
Therefore, the number of glaciations is still an open question.
There are strong indications that there was only one ice age.
As discussed previously, the requirements for an ice age are very
stringent. The problem grows to impossibility, when more than one
is considered. Practically all the ice-age sediments are from the
last, and these deposits are very thin over interior areas, and
not overly thick at the periphery. Till can sometimes be laid
down rapidly, especially in end moraines. Thus the main
characteristics of the till favor one ice age. Pleistocene
fossils are rare in glaciated areas, which is mysterious, if there
were many interglacials. Practically all the megafaunal
extinctions were after the last-a difficult problem if there was
more than one.
One dynamic ice age could explain the features of the till
along the periphery by large fluctuations and surges, which would
cause stacked till sheets.19 Organic remains can be trapped by
these oscillations.20 Large fluctuations may be caused by variable
continental cooling, depending upon volcanic activity. In
addition, most of the snow and ice should accumulate at the
periphery, closest to the main storm tracks. Large surface slopes
and warm basal temperatures at the edge are conducive to rapid
In summary, the mystery of the ice age can be best explained
by one catastrophic ice age as a consequence of the Genesis Flood.
2. Chariesworth, J.K., 1957, The Quaternary Era, Vol. 2, London,
Edward Amold, p. 1532, Williams, L.D., 1979, "An Energy
Balance Model of Potential Glacierization of Northern
Canada:" Arctic and Alpine Research, v. I 1, n. 4, pp.
3. Fong, P., 1982, "Latent Heat of Melting and Its Importance
for Glaciation Cycles:" Climatic Change, v. 4, p. 199.
4. Oard, M.J., 1984, "Ice Ages: The Mystery Solved? Part 2: The
Manipulation of DeepSea Cores:" Creation Research Society
Quarterly, v. 21, n. 3, pp. 125-137.
5. Oard, M.J., 1985, "Ice Ages: The Mystery Solved? Part 3:
Paleomagnetic Stratigraphy and Data Manipulation:" Creation
Research Society Quarterly, v. 21, n. 4, pp. 170-181.
6. Bryson, R.A., 1985, "On Climatic Analogs in Paleoclimatic
Reconstruction:" Quaternary Research, v. 23, n. 3, p. 275.
8. Charlesworth, 0p. Cit., p. 601.
Bunker, A.F., 1976, "A Computation of Surface Energy Flux and
Annual Air-Sea Interaction Cycles of the North Atlantic
Ocean:" Monthly Weather Reuiew, v. 104, n. 9,
9. Holton, J.R., 1972, An Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology,
New York, Academic Press, pp. 48-51.
10. Oard, M.D., "An Ice Age Within The Biblical Time Frdme,"
Proceedings of the First International Conference on
Creationism, Pittsburgh (in press).
ii. Bloom, A.L., 1971, "Glacial-Enstatic and Isostatic Controls
of Sea Level," in K.K.
Turekian, ed., Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages, New Haven, Yale
University Press, p. 367.
13. Patterson, W.S.B., 1969, The Physics of Glaciers, New York,
Pergamon, pp. 45-62. Hughes, T., 1986, "The Jakobshanvs
Effect." Geophysical Research Letters, v. 13, n. 1, pp,
14. Warren, S.G. and W.J. Wiscombe, 1980, "A Model for the
Spectral Albedo of Snow.
ii. Snow Containing Atmospheric Aerosols:" Journal of the
15. v. 37, n. 12, p. 2736.
16. Kennett, J.P., 1982, Marine Geology, New Jersey,
Prentice-Hall, p. 747.
Eyles, N., W.R. Dearman and T.D. Douglas, 1983, "Glacial
Landsystems in Britain and North America," in N. Eyles, ed.,
Glacial Geology, New York, Pergamon, p. 217.
17. Valentine, K. and J. Dalrymple, 1976, "Quaternary Buried
Paleosols: A Critical Review:" Quaternary Research, v. 6, n.
2, pp. 209-222.
18. Boardman, J., 1985, "Comparison of Soils in Midwestern United
States and Western Europe with the Interglacial Record:"
Quaternary Research, v. 23, n. 1, pp. 62-75.
19. Paul, M.A., 1983, "The Supraglacial Landsystem," in N. Eyles,
ed., Glacial Geology, New York, Pergamon, pp. 71-90.
20. Eyles, Dearman and Douglas, 0p. Cit., p. 222.
21, Patterson, 0p. Cit., p. 63-167.
Index - Evolution or Creation1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 | 215 | 216 | 217 | 218 | 219 | 220 | 221 | 222 | 223 | 224 | 225 | 226 | 227 | 228 | 229 | 230 | 231