About 13,000 years ago a disintegrating comet struck the Earth. Thus, setting off global firestorms. The impact led the Earth to a mini ice age.

A massive firestorm broke out after fragments of a comet that measured more than 60 miles wide, struck the planet.

A team of 24 scientists led by Wendy S. Wolbach, a Professor of inorganic chemistry, geochemistry and analytical chemistry at Chicago’s De Paul University, conducted the study. Also, the study 

The team of researchers came to this hypothesis after combining data from ice core, forest, pollen and other geochemical and isotopic markers obtained from more than 170 different sites across the world.

“The hypothesis is that a large comet fragmented and the chunks impacted the Earth, causing this disaster,” Adrian Melott, study author and emeritus astrophysics professor at The University of Kansas, said in a statement. “A number of different chemical signatures—carbon dioxide, nitrate, ammonia, and others—all seem to indicate that an astonishing 10 percent of the Earth’s land surface, or about 10 million square kilometers, was consumed by fires.”

Melott and his colleague’s work was so large that it was divided into two studies published in The Journal of Geology. Part I. Ice Cores and Glaciers; and Part II. Lake, Marine, and Terrestrial Sediments.

Researchers believe that the comet hit the planet about 13,000 years ago. They also concluded that pieces of the comet are still floating around in our solar system.

The Impact

However, different types of plants and food sources were affected too, which ultimately lead humans to adapt to severe conditions.

“Computations suggest that the impact would have depleted the ozone layer, causing increases in skin cancer and other negative health effects,” Melott said. “The impact hypothesis is still a hypothesis, but this study provides a massive amount of evidence, which we argue can only be all explained by a major cosmic impact.”

How can fire lead to ice?

As fires rushed across much of the planet’s landscape, the smoke and dust choked the sky and blocked out sunlight. Thus, triggering rapid cooling in the atmosphere, causing plants to die, food sources to diminish, and ocean levels to drop. Last, but not least, the ice sheets which had been previously retreating began to advance again.

This mini ice age, according to the study, lasted about another thousand years. However, after that, the climate began to warm again and life to recover. But the Earth wasn’t the same again because a number of animals went extinct.

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