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Glacial melt 'bears striking resemblance to Ice Age'

Scientists hope samples taken from Scotland's seabed can give insight into Antarctic thaw.

The melting polar ice caps bear "striking resemblance" to conditions during the end of the last Ice Age, according to a new study.

It is thought the £3.5m five year Britice-Chrono project will give scientists insight into how and why the West Antarctica ice sheets are currently melting.

Samples taken from the seabed in the Minch in the north west of Scotland and around Shetland, dating back 20,000 years into the Ice Age, show conditions were very similar to samples collected from West Antarctica now.

A range of techniques have been used on the samples, such as X-ray, which has given clues as to how and why the ice melted.

Dr Tom Bradwell said: "This is the first time that we've taken continuous high quality sediment cores from beneath a former ice stream, in some of the deepest waters around the British Isles, some of which are still uncharted.

"Samples from the Ice Age in the Minch 20,000 years ago show that the ice sheet was still in the ocean.

"By 16,000 years ago the ice just on land and by 14,000 years ago virtually all the ice in Scotland had melted, in what is deemed the end of the Ice Age.

"It's vital that we understand how the last British ice sheet grew and the style and rate at which it receded."

It is thought the data collected will enable scientists to predict at what rate the ice caps will melt.

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