Over the past twenty years I’ve had a fair number of people ask me about the Ice Age. Based on the Bible’s indication of a 6000 year old earth, they want to know when the Ice Age happened and if there really was an Ice Age.
According to evolutionists, there were a number of ice ages. Their times and magnitude vary from source to source. One scenario being taught at a major university says that the first and largest ice age occurred about 650,000 years ago. This ice age was supposed to have been so massive that the sea level dropped by nearly 400 feet, the global temperature dropped by about 9ºF and it lasted almost 50,000 years. Afterwards, the earth experienced an ice age about every 100,000 year with the last ice age occurring about 20,000 years ago and lasting until about 11,000 years ago.
From a biblical perspective, we know that this cannot be the case, but how do we explain all the evidence for an Ice Age with the 6000 years of biblical history?
Before we can place the Ice Age into a biblical and historic time frame, we need to examine what the environmental and meteorological conditions would need to exist in order for an Ice Age to occur. Those conditions are: higher than normal evaporation rates, warm ocean temperatures, cool land surfaces and volcanic aerosols in the atmosphere.
When one examines the various evolutionary theories for the mechanisms necessary to cause an ice age, one quickly discovers that they all fall short of meeting the listed requirements. However, the Genesis Flood does provide for all of the necessary mechanisms.
The Genesis Flood was a time of massive tectonic and volcanic activity. Several studies and computer models have indicated that the continents split up during the Flood. Rapid tectonic movements would have resulted in volcanic eruptions across the face of the globe. The extensive amount of volcanic activity would have released large amounts of volcanic aerosols (gases and fine particles) into the atmosphere. Following the Flood, these aerosols would have remained in the atmosphere for a number of years. Continued volcanic activity after the Flood would have added more aerosols for hundreds of years. The effects of these aerosols in the atmosphere would have resulted in significant drops in the temperatures of the land surfaces, especially in the latitudes furthest away from the equator.
At the same time, the mechanics of the Flood and the tectonic and volcanic activity would have resulted in warm oceans. Warmer ocean water would have increased the rate of evaporation, adding large amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere. According to Michael Oard, retired meteorologist from NOAA:
Evaporation over the ocean is proportional to how cool, dry, and unstable the air is, and how fast the wind blows. Indirectly, it is proportional to sea surface temperature. A 10 degree C air-sea temperature difference, with a relative humidity of 50%, will evaporate seven times more water at a sea surface temperature of 30 degrees C than at 0 degrees 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 track to be parallel to the east coast, by the thermal wind equation. Storm after storm would develop near the eastern shoreline, similar to modern-day Northeasters, over the continent. Once a snow cover is established, more solar radiation is reflected back to space, reinforcing the cooling over land, and compensating the volcanic lulls.
As the storms described by Oard continue to build and move over the cooler land masses, they would have laid down excessive amounts of snow. Since the land surface temperatures are cooler than normal, the snow would have accumulated, eventually compacting into sheets of ice that covered large areas of land. Michael Oard calculated that it would have taken about 500 years to reach maximum accumulation.
Eventually, the volcanic activity would have sufficiently diminished. Less volcanic activity meant reduced amounts of aerosols being released into the atmosphere. The oceans would then start to lose their heat into the atmosphere reducing the amount of evaporation. Reduced aerosols and evaporation rates would have reduced the frequency and severity of the storms which in turn would have reduced the amount of snowfall and any further build up of ice.
Once the mechanisms that produced the ice sheets have been removed or returned back to normal, the air over the land surface would have warm up and the ice sheets would have started to melt. Studies have indicated that the ice sheets would have melted at a faster rate than when they built up. Oard calculated that the retreat of the ice sheets would have only taken about 200 years.
Thus the total duration from the beginning to the end of a post-Flood Ice Age would have been approximately 700 years.
But do we have any Scriptural references that indicate that there may have been an Ice Age after the Genesis Flood? In Job, we find two passages that may be referring to the Ice Age;
From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. Job 37:9-10
From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. Job 38:29-30
In conclusion, Michael Oard said:
A post-Flood, rapid ice age, supports the Genesis Flood, which further supports the historicity of the Bible. It also adds credence to the God of the Bible, and to the spiritual message in the Bible. A God who has control of the earth, can cause a global Flood, and allow an ice age is very powerful. He is even more powerful and intelligent for having created the entire universe. He is a master mathematician, engineer, and artist. Only the God of power and love described in the Bible, is up to the task.
General Overview of the Ice Ages – Climate Change 2 Syllabus, University of California San Diego, 2002.
Oard, Michael, The Ice Age and the Genesis Flood, Institute for Creation Research Impact Article, June 1, 1987.
Oard, Michael, An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, California, 1990.