Massive volcanic eruptions could cause localised warming that might destabilise some of the world's biggest ice sheets, according to new research from Durham University.
Scientists investigated links between very large volcanic eruptions and polar temperatures during the last Ice Age.
Their findings suggest that some periods of Antarctic warming between 30,000 to 80,000 years ago were triggered by huge volcanic eruptions in the Northern Hemisphere that caused a shift in the world's weather patterns.
The Northern Hemisphere cooled as volcanic particles reflected the sun's heat, forcing warmer weather fronts south which led to warming in Antarctica, the researchers said.
Conversely, their research suggests that Southern Hemisphere eruptions could also have triggered abrupt warming in Greenland during the last Ice Age.