The Surprising Journey of Ice-Age Water From Glaciers to Your Glass


The ice age may have ended nearly 10,000 years ago, but we can still see hints of it today. Scientists study fossils, seafloor sediments, and corals to learn about this chilly time in Earth’s history. But now they have a new way to peek into the ice age past—by siphoning 20,000-year-old ocean water from an ancient rock. Learn the best info about Ice-Age Water From Glaciers.

Glacial water is fresh, clean, and mineral-rich. It is a natural part of the world’s water cycle, created when water freezes and melts repeatedly. The resulting icebergs melt and eventually go to the ocean, where they join with other icebergs and contribute to the global water supply. The icy treasure also adds to Earth’s albedo, helping to reflect sunlight and keep our planet warm.

When geologist Louis Agassiz saw strange boulders in Switzerland that didn’t fit, he knew the clues pointed to a time of heavy glaciation. But the idea was so new that his peers dismissed his theory. He vowed to show them about the ice age by proving it with science.

It took a while, but his persistence paid off. In 1837, Agassiz presented his evidence at a Swiss Academy of Sciences meeting. His conclusions were convincing and completely reshaped our understanding of the ice age.

We now know that glaciers were much more significant than we ever imagined, covering entire continents. And we understand that ice ages were longer than thought, extending for millions of years. But we’ve just begun to figure out how the ice ages worked and why they happened in particular places, such as the Alps.

The most important part of a glacier is not its ice but the water trapped inside. This “glacial slush” contains living microbes, organic matter like plant debris, and even fossils. Scientists are learning more about the microbial community in glacial slush and the implications of these findings for our planet’s climate.

Glacial water from the Toba Inlet is sourced directly from towering glaciers deep in Canada’s Coast Mountains. Secluded from industrial development and civilization, this unique water source offers unmatched purity.

Hang out with animals adapted for cold, discover lands lost long ago under the world’s oceans, and learn more about this chilly time in Earth’s story. This fascinating exhibit features natural specimens, artifacts, fossils, models, and interactive exhibits.

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