Scientists have found an explanation for one of the big mysteries in climate science with the help of 12,000-year old Swedish midges, reports ScienceNordic.
A combination of fossilised midges and climate modelling suggest that melting ice sheets in Scandinavia triggered a dramatic 1,000-year long cold snap in Europe 12,800 years ago. Temporary and extreme climate changes punctuated the warming of the Northern Hemisphere as the Earth escaped the icy grip of the last Ice Age.
One such event occurred 12,800 years ago–the so-called Younger Dryas–when Europe was suddenly plunged back into near-Ice Age conditions. The ensuing cold struck Europe and Russia quickly, and hard. But how and why remained a mystery.
Now, a new study has an answer: melting glaciers in Scandinavia set key environmental changes in motion and initiated this dramatic 1,000-year long cold snap. “The Fennoscandian Ice Sheet in Northern Europe has always been considered an underdog [compared to ice sheets in Greenland and north America] and has received little or no attention in the specialised literature,” says lead-author Francesco Muschitiello from Stockholm University, Sweden in an email to ScienceNordic.
But Muschitiello’s new research puts the Scandinavian ice sheet at the heart of the mystery. According to him, it is the missing link to understanding this major climate event, which is a key benchmark to understanding how climate can change so suddenly.
The results are published in the journal Nature Communications.
The authors conclude:
The new results offer a convincing explanation for this dramatic climate event in Scandinavia and provides a crucial understanding of how and why melting of ice-sheets in Scandinavia can lead to rapid and dramatic local changes in climate.
Note: there’s more information in the full report