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"Sudden Ice Age: Ice Age Wars?" Topic

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Cacique Caribe14 Aug 2006 7:01 p.m. PST


You started me thinking about this . . .

If there is a sudden Ice Age in the 21st century (for whatever reason), how will humanity respond?

What major political and military trends would you foresee in such an Ice Age?

A Fuel War?

Mass (forceful) migrations to the warmer countries and territories?

How will wealthier nations react? How will the third world react?

If the sea level were to drop to the levels existing in previous Ice Ages (up to 400 feet), what will that do to international land claims on the new land?


Lots of questions, yes. But I hope the answers have lots of gaming potential.



Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian14 Aug 2006 7:11 p.m. PST

I think it might be a tad one sided. Those headed south might be better equipped, motivated and mobilized.

qar qarth14 Aug 2006 7:48 p.m. PST

It won't be as peaceful as "Day After Tomorrow."

Boone Doggle14 Aug 2006 7:59 p.m. PST

Which 3 big chunks of warm land lack nukes?
Which 3 big chunks of now frozen land have nukes?
I'm sure they can sort it out peacefully.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2006 8:07 p.m. PST

LOL Boone. :D

nvdoyle14 Aug 2006 8:09 p.m. PST

It's pretty sweet, but I like the CS zombie mod that has all the players start as one team and the zombies (usually the number of players + 50%) controlled by bots. Fun stuff!

nvdoyle14 Aug 2006 8:10 p.m. PST

Let's try this again…stupid bug…


You're welcome!

Okay, presuming that the balance of power hasn't changed terribly much, and it's a relatively fast onset (not ridiculously fast, like in 'Day After Tomorrow'), you're looking at several things.

(It's speculated that one of the recent glacial periods, the Younger Dryas, took approx. 100 years to set in. Some extreme interpretations of various data give possible onset of the temperature drop (not the ice sheet formation!) of 3-5 years.)

Everyone in the iced-over areas will be moving south. Canada, the Great Lakes, the far Northeast and Northwest USA, most of England and Ireland, Scandinavia, northern and central Russia, Northern Germany, most of Poland, Belarus, Ukraine. That's a lot of people.

That doesn't sound *too* bad until you realize that almost all of Europe is going to be tundra/taiga at best, and polar desert at worst. Whatever resources were there will be harder to get to.

It keeps getting worse when you realize that one of the major breadbaskets of the world, North America, the fields there will be either under ice, or in tundra/polar deserts. No more Kansas wheat, Indiana corn, etc.

Now, that's balanced by the tropical/subtropical latitutes becoming more conducive to farming – Central America becomes grassland all the way down to South America, and a lot of land is opened up in the South China Sea/Indonesian Archipelago areas.

That sounds good – hey, more farmland! – but…it's not. So much water is locked up in the ice sheets that global rainfall drops, and deserts expand.

We're looking at a lot of desalination projects, irrigation works, and farming. Granted, over 100 years, this is probably acheivable.

The problem is…there's a whole lot of people who have to head south, and another lot of people who are going to want to move south. And for the most part, the places they're going to aren't going to see much of an improvement – more grassland instead of forests/rainforests, sure, but there might not be enough landmass to make up for it – in order to handle those migrations.

The one place that might, landwise, is Africa, but water would still be an issue.

But again, if we're talking about a situation much like the one today, the 'Third World' simply doesn't have the infrastructure to support mass immigration. And the cultures moving south are going to expect to take their culture with them. Some of the recipients of the migrations might take hold of European/American/Canadian culture and prosper, others might not…and conflict will ensue.

Even if the Third World nations, now in the New Ice Age the only significant food producers, make a pile of cash off of selling food to hungry Amis and Euros, it won't make things any better for them; you'll just end up with wealthier despots and bribe-fuelled bureaucrats. You'd have the conflict of more successful First World cultures/societies versus Third World national/ethnic pride. It's a recipe for a mess. And in the end, when it comes to violence, the Euros and Amis are probably going to win.

Land claims of newly-revealed seabed are going to be…interesting. There's several traditional recognized limits – 12 miles and 200 miles being common. Most nations are probably just going to draw the border straight out until they reach the new shoreline – and that means that the Indonesian Archipelago will probably turn into a nasty multi-side shooting match, given the amount of oil that's supposed to be under that and the South China Sea.

Fuel is another question – all the oil of Siberia, Alaska, Canada and the North Sea is utterly inaccessible. It might be easier to pump other sources, though; what was offshore oil…would be on-shore. Gulf of Mexico, South China Sea…er, Plains? Nuclear power wouldn't even be a question – we'd be digging uranium as fast as possible.

We might be looking for ways to heat up the planet, but…good luck with that. There probably isn't a darn thing we can do about the warming and cooling periods.

Military trends – look for continued improvement of American (and to a lesser degree, European and Russian) capability. China, if it can keep a steady course, will probably be catching up…eventually. Maybe. They'd probably be looking south as the ice started to flow, more than worrying about the USA. Not for migration, but political and economic influence. Heck of a lot of resources there, and the USA is going to have a heck of a time with it's own troubles, as are the Europeans. I've got a feeling that they're going to be the big winners in the long run of this scenario…

(India might be in a position to challenge that, but they're losing a good chunk of their western section to desert, though the rest of the subcontinent will be grassland.)

(Oh, and the Middle East is screwed. Nothing but extreme desert from Morocco to Afghanistan, the Red Sea and Persian Gulf are gone…)

More info, the first link has a LOT of good biosphere info.



Now, of course, if we presume something even more extreme…


…all bets are off and we're talking about terraforming Mars ASAP…

Cacique Caribe14 Aug 2006 8:37 p.m. PST

Holy crap! Ok. For the sake of this discussion, let's not assume that "snowball" scenario. You are right. All bets would be off.


Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian14 Aug 2006 8:51 p.m. PST

Good Stuff nvdoyle. I think BooneC got it one :)

GypsyComet14 Aug 2006 9:51 p.m. PST

As I noted in the previous thread, there is also the secondary effect on existing infrastructure. Can the world's current crop of huge port cities adapt to the departing coastline fast enough? Will there be anything to ship if they do? Unlike the waterworld scenario, the potential sea level change in an ice age has no easy cieling (basement…whatever). Enough drop and the big ports are faced with their former estuaries complete removal, with the open sea now on the wrong side of a *waterfall*.

The tropical forest to grassland conversions won't happen overnight either, unless aided by a LOT of chainsaws…

Sane Max15 Aug 2006 3:13 a.m. PST

There is a rather good old book by John Christopher which deals with this – it is called 'The World in Winter' and deals with the effects of a sudden decline in insolation. As you say everyone heads South, in this case to the former colonies, where they become a despised and mistreated minority if poor, or a tolerated bunch of parasites if better off, or officers for the army for the proected war against South Africa.

It is like John Wyndham, but without the 'everone comes out happy as Larry' endings.


Whatshupp15 Aug 2006 11:49 a.m. PST

Maybe I'm underestimating the effects of this thing but the US doesnt look THAT iced over. The people who are really screwed are the europeans, because of the sheer population density there already, and the russians because its so cold there already, and now the warm areas will be cold.

Farstar15 Aug 2006 1:35 p.m. PST

"Maybe I'm underestimating the effects of this thing but the US doesnt look THAT iced over."

It isn't just the ice, though. All the climatic zones move as well. Even if the ice sheet stopped at the Canadian border (which is unlikely) as much as half of the US would quickly become desolate, dry, and cold. At the same Latitude elsewhere, 80% of the former Soviet Union is under ice. China become incapable of supporting its population as the *only* arable land is at its southernmost extents, and that land is only as good as the northern provinces were before the ice came. New Orleans and Florida go from sub-Tropical to sub-Arctic. It would snow in Cuba on a frequent basis.

The term "Polar Desert" has already been used. In our current world, the term applies to only a few percent of the Earth's land surface, concentrated around the Arctic Ocean and in parts of Antarctica. Under the "Canadian Border" scenario (ie. average ice sheet advance to 48 degrees North), the combination of ice sheet and polar desert would exceed 50% of the northern hemisphere.

DesertScrb15 Aug 2006 8:08 p.m. PST

For an interesting SF novel take on this scenario, see "Fallen Angels" by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynt.

Cacique Caribe15 May 2007 6:11 a.m. PST

There seems to now be a computer game based on just such a scenario:


Now, imagine THAT on an actual game board with miniatures!


Cacique Caribe15 May 2007 6:15 a.m. PST

For terrain ideas . . .

TMP link


Cacique Caribe15 May 2007 6:28 a.m. PST

For figure choices:

TMP link

Other related scenarios and ideas:

TMP link
TMP link
TMP link


Lullabye Skipp15 May 2007 8:17 a.m. PST

Kim Stanley Robinson has written about the younger dryas in a recent novel (which I'm enjoying right now but cannot remember the name of)…

Go buy it.

qar qarth16 May 2007 1:22 p.m. PST

Battlefield 2142 is exactly it.

Cacique Caribe16 May 2007 1:37 p.m. PST

Those are the figures I was asking about on this other thread, though all I had were still shots:

TMP link


Cacique Caribe20 May 2007 8:18 p.m. PST

Interesting images:



Cacique Caribe21 May 2007 4:55 a.m. PST

Interesting site:


Cacique Caribe14 Jun 2007 9:18 p.m. PST

Anyone see this cheesy 1998 made-for-tv film called "Ice"?


arquerobarbaro15 Jun 2007 2:19 p.m. PST

could apophis do this in 2036?

qar qarth15 Jun 2007 2:29 p.m. PST

It would take a bigger rock to do that.

lugal hdan15 Jun 2007 3:27 p.m. PST

And we'd probably see social oddness like "Neocromagnonification", where some "Hippy" folk decide that if we're going to live in an ice age, we should do it like "cavemen" since their ancient wisdom and lifestyle was doubtlessly superior to our own.

Cacique Caribe15 Jun 2007 5:40 p.m. PST



Cacique Caribe04 Aug 2007 8:17 p.m. PST

"Mass (forceful) migrations to the warmer countries and territories? How will wealthier nations react? How will the third world react?"

Since the US and Canada would be fighting for their survival, how deep south into Mexico would they "appropriate", do you think?


smokingwreckage05 Aug 2007 8:44 p.m. PST

I think one of the immediate effects, before the ice would be interesting: EU becomes even more desperately dependent on Russian oil and gas. Russia tries to strong-arm the EU (it needs resources to move masses of population, possibly invade China) and oversteps; EU unifies FOR REAL and invades Russia and subsequently the Middle East.

Cacique Caribe05 Aug 2007 8:49 p.m. PST

"EU unifies FOR REAL and invades Russia and subsequently the Middle East."



Cacique Caribe17 Dec 2008 9:06 a.m. PST

Has anyone gamed anything like this since the thread was started and discussed last?

Would love to see pics.



Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP17 Dec 2008 8:24 p.m. PST

"I think it might be a tad one sided. Those headed south might be better equipped, motivated and mobilized'

Like the Russians going into Chechnya?

Farstar19 Dec 2008 3:45 p.m. PST

Motivated, certainly. When there is a moving wall (of ice) behind you, anyone between you and a tropical vacation is simply not going to have your level of determination.

Chechnya… Chechnya… (looks at map again).

Nah, they'll be some of the first to be on the move, since their own mountains will betray them long before the continental ice sheets come knocking.

Cacique Caribe19 Dec 2008 4:12 p.m. PST

Most people, including Chechnyans, would rush south to the largest continents along the equator, such as Africa and South America.

Last few Ice Ages affected the northern hemisphere more than the southern one, right?


Farstar19 Dec 2008 4:37 p.m. PST

Yes, as seawater freezes at a lower temperature, and open ocean provides a much less stable base for sheet spread than land does. As a result, the arctic sheets will spread quite a lot faster along land, with open ocean only really icing over once there is too much fractured ice in a given basin for bits to easily float away. As an example, the ocean around Alaska will probably freeze over as the Aleutian islands "expand" with ice of their own, closing the gaps between them. Once those gaps get too small for the big icebergs coming off of continental Alaska to escape, the ocean within that area fills with bergs that first play bumpercar, but eventually fuse together. Similar behavior would be seen in the China Seas.

By comparison, the open Pacific isn't going freeze over for any conditions shy of full Snowball. The basin is simply too large to ever get past "bumpercars" under normal Ice Age conditions.

The Southern Hemisphere, in its current configuration, lacks the enclosed or enclosable basins to foster partial oceanic freezes. The Antarctic Ocean is also the one spot on the whole globe where ocean water can react as a single current to the rotation of the planet, making most of that water too fast-moving to snowball. Finally, the relative lack of large mountain ranges to provide localized "head start" ice sheets, and the relatively small areas of flat land to get continental sheets really moving and well anchored, will further hinder total glaciation. Best candidates for large ocean scale glaciation would be in the "hook" of South America in the South Atlantic, and in amongst the more cluttered archipelagos in the Far South Pacific. Ice bridging from Antarctica north is unlikely until just before going total Snowball.

Warbeads19 Dec 2008 4:43 p.m. PST

I think the point was the people in Chechnya put up a much more effective resistance then the Russians expected.



Warbeads19 Dec 2008 4:46 p.m. PST

I will assume (for argument's sake) that this happens. Shouldn't the Antarctic expand more towards South America and, perhaps less significantly, towards South Africa and Australia?

Um, South Island in New Zealand looks quite iced over in the picture: picture



Warbeads19 Dec 2008 4:47 p.m. PST

"…Which 3 big chunks of warm land lack nukes?
Which 3 big chunks of now frozen land have nukes?
I'm sure they can sort it out peacefully…"

But do you want to use nukes on land you want to occupy??!



Cacique Caribe19 Dec 2008 4:59 p.m. PST

So . . . where would China's 1.2 Billion people end up? Australia?

Europeans, including Russians, to Africa?

US, Canada and Mexico's population down to South America?


Farstar19 Dec 2008 5:02 p.m. PST

"I think the point was the people in Chechnya put up a much more effective resistance then the Russians expected."

And if I can deflect such references away from CA and back into the actual topic, I will.

South Island NZ has a lot of mountains, but with only North Island to bounce off of, the oceanic extent of that ice is not going to be great.

While the natural tendency of continental ice sheets would tend to push ice into the gap between Antarctica and South America, two factors will work against it until very close to full snowball.

First, Antarctica has relatively low rainfall already. Ice Age conditions tend to reduce that even further. No rainfall means no material to make more ice sheet out of.

Second, the ocean currents south of Tierra del Fuego are fierce. Some of the fiercest on the planet. That water *never* sits still. In addition, it's sea water. I don't have the specific numbers in front of me, but the freezing point of seawater is well below 0C. With bridging and spontaneous freezing both unlikely, the Antarctic Ocean is likely to remain clear.

Cacique Caribe02 Aug 2009 10:58 a.m. PST

For suitable 15mm figures, let's see what others come up with on this other thread:

TMP link


Cacique Caribe02 Aug 2009 12:51 p.m. PST

Anyone done anything like "Ice Station Zebra" or the likes?


Mooseworks803 Aug 2009 1:46 p.m. PST

So you think there might be 4 factions arise from the event?

Cacique Caribe03 Aug 2009 11:49 p.m. PST

Let's see:

Canadians move south, seeking refuge from the more-than-extreme weather. In exchange, they allow US to send in exploration units to exploit the final oil reserves.

The southern states become the only areas with major population centers in the US.

Much like this:


Europe is going to be the problem. Too many countries involved. Too much bad blood among many of them:


That's where I think things would get ugly first. There and in Asia.


Cacique Caribe04 Aug 2009 6:36 a.m. PST

Similar to this:

YouTube link
YouTube link


Cacique Caribe06 Aug 2009 9:23 a.m. PST

Is this cool or what?


But it got me thinking . . .

If ice becomes the largest resource in many countries, why not use it as a building material? I've seen igloos, and ice sculptures and buildings at fairs and other events, but I haven't seen it done for permanent structures.


Cacique Caribe08 Aug 2009 10:47 p.m. PST

Sub"terranean" might be the way to go . . .


TMP link

Cacique Caribe07 Oct 2009 11:15 p.m. PST

I just love these Battlefield 2142 video clips:

YouTube link

"The year is 2142 . . . and the dawn of a new Ice age has thrown the world into a panic. The soil not covered by ice can only feed a fraction of the Earth's population. The math is simple and brutal: some will live, most will die."

I think that the 15mm Recon Troops from Critical Mass Games are perfect for the part, don't you think?

TMP link


Cacique Caribe18 Nov 2009 9:12 p.m. PST

Just found this other one:



Cacique Caribe30 Nov 2009 6:37 p.m. PST

More inspired souls:

TMP link
YouTube link


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