Melting Scandinavian glaciers may offer clue to Younger Dryas mystery

Posted: December 11, 2015 by oldbrew in climate, modelling, research

[] Note: Tallbloke's Talkshop is non - profit and use is for educational purposes only.

Note: Tallbloke’s Talkshop is non – profit and use is for educational purposes only.

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.

Full report: Melting Scandinavian glaciers made Europe cool and dry | ScienceNordic

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

  1. Mike Flynn says:

    Ah, yes. Just one minor thing – what melted the ice sheet? Why did the cold snap end? CO2? Or maybe we just don’t know?

    What snap froze cold adapted mammals such as the Woolly Mammoth? Why did the permafrost freeze? I haven’t a clue, but it looks like no one else has, either!

    I feel much better now.


  2. Jason Calley says:

    I find the possibility of a major meteor impact may need to be considered. If you are not offended by some out-of-the-box thinking, watch Maybe jump to 1:22:00 or so.

  3. rishrac says:

    Cold fresh water lowered the temperature 5 c ? And the previous ice didnt. And the cold fresh water just sloshed around for a thousand years? The models work if you don’t ask any questions.

  4. pochas94 says:

    More evidence that the Younger Dryas was a period of rapid melting.

  5. Paul Vaughan says:

    “They also analysed leaf waxes preserved in the lake sediments, which record a signal of past rainfall and ice melt into the North Sea.

    Crucially, these changes also matched those recorded in Greenland ice cores over the same time. But with a catch: as Scandinavia became cold and dry, Greenland became wetter and warmer.
    […] the vast quantities of cold fresh water that ended up in the Nordic Seas allowed summer sea ice to spread out. This drastically affected the local climate […]”

    Angle of the tropical fire hose.
    Same as multidecadal.
    Same as Rial.

    Why the resistance to the trivial fractional differintegral geometry? Probably 2 reasons: 1. politics: fear that any acknowledgement of any natural factors whatsoever undermines present-day political warfare. 2. undeveloped ability to spatiotemporally conceptualize with complex numbers, which absolutely simplify the trivial geometry.

    China’s our only compassionate hope to correct inhumane western climate extremism. Western powers steadfastly denying the trivial differintegral geometry are spearheading a (dangerous) geopolitical power play. They’re the imbalance needing balancing. Recommendation: Slow and steady equal and opposite. Effortlessly and elegantly balance every move to let the aggressors learn that hostile climate extremism isn’t a viable mitigation for nonlinear North Atlantic vulnerability.

  6. gymnosperm says:

    When it gets cold, the oscillations increase in amplitude.

    Alternatively, increasing amplitude causes it to get cold.

    Further alternatively, decreasing frequency causes it to get cold. Or, increasing cold causes decreasing frequency.

    Energy is frequency dependent.

  7. 12,500 years ago a massive freshwater deluge took the equivalent of Lake Erie into the Pacific Ocean at the Washington State coast. It wasn’t the first. We are learning about the PDO being so important for European (and global) climate. Could that event be a trigger?

    The linkages of oceanic events are clearly more important to strong climatic events than admitted in the current models. The Arctic Ocean was closed back then, but the Sun was still producing a lot of energy into the tropics – and that energy got redirected somewhere. It seems – by looking at El Nino/La Nina events – that local events have dramatic global consequences.

    The warmists warn of “thresholds”. I prefer the term “triggers”. My point is not that the status quo is fragile, but that significant events happen with enough clout to turn things around. It is not that the man driving his car is apt at a moment’s notice to lose control, but that a moose suddenly stepping out from the roadside woods can (and will) ruin that man’s life.

  8. TomRude says:

    What is the illustration supposed to represent? Thx

  9. TomRude says:

    In fact this figure represents “The Glacial topography and dynamics of MPHs in northern hemisphere during the Last Glacial Maximum. It is a redraw of Figure 13.12 borrowed without attribution from the book Dynamic Analysis of Weather and Climate by Prof. Marcel Leroux, published in 2010 by Springer. Page 319.
    Please reference…

  10. tchannon says:

    TomRude, I’ll see that this is sorted, not sure where the author is at the moment. Leaving it as for some hours won’t do significantly more harm. I have to go out again.

    I agree it looks like a Leroux drawing.


  11. oldbrew says:

    SIS group comments on our post – ‘Useful Midges’.

  12. tchannon says:

    It is a catastrophe kind of event.

    I have a vague recollection of I think Morner commenting on ice sheet melts.Might be worth a trawl.

  13. TomRude says:


    No problem, as I think it even adds aspect of circulation not discussed in the original scientific paper. Attribution and reference is all I think what is needed here.

  14. oldbrew says:

    Post says: ‘One such event occurred 12,800 years ago–the so-called Younger Dryas–when Europe was suddenly plunged back into near-Ice Age conditions.’

    Doug Proctor says: ‘12,500 years ago a massive freshwater deluge took the equivalent of Lake Erie into the Pacific Ocean at the Washington State coast.’

    PBS America TV prog says: ‘In this television exclusive, NOVA joins forces with prominent scientists to test a startling hypothesis that may finally explain these sudden and widespread extinctions—that a comet broke apart in the atmosphere and devastated North America 12,900 years ago.’