Tracking down abrupt climate changes

Aug 01, 2008

In an article in the scientific magazine Nature Geosciences, the geoscientists Achim Brauer, Peter Dulski and Jörg Negendank, (emeritus Professor) from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Gerald Haug from the DFG-Leibniz Center for Surface Processes and Climate Studies at the University of Potsdam and the ETH in Zurich, and Daniel Sigman from the Princeton University prove, for the first time, an extremely fast climate change in Western Europe. This took place long before man-made changes in the atmosphere, and is causatively associated with a sudden change in the wind systems.

The proof of an extreme cooling within a short number of years 12 700 years ago was attained in sediments of the volcanic lake "Meerfelder Maar" in the Eifel, Germany. The seasonally layered deposits allow to precisely determine the rate of climate change.

With a novel combination of microscopic research studies and modern geochemical scanner procedures the scientists were able to successfully reconstruct the climatic conditions even for individual seasons. And so it was particularly the changes in the wind force and direction during the winter half-year, which caused the climate to topple over into a completely different mode within one year after a short instable phase of a few decades.

Up to now one assumed that it was the attenuation of the Golf Stream alone that was responsible for the strong cooling in Western Europe.

The examined lake deposits show however that the atmospheric circulation, probably in connection with the spreading of sea-ice, probably played a very important role. At the same time, these new results also show that the climate system is long not understood, and that especially the mechanisms of short-term change and the time of occurrence still hold many puzzles. Micro-layered lake deposits represent particularly suitable geological archives, with which scientists want to track down climate change.

Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) and other institutions are in search of such archives worldwide, so as to also, in the future, obtain area-wide information on the dynamics of climate and possible regional variations.

Citation: "An abrupt wind shift in Western Europe at the onset of the Younger Dryas cold period", Achim BRAUER, Gerald H. HAUG, Peter DULSKI, Daniel M. SIGMAN, Jörg F.W. NEGENDANK, Nature Geoscience 8, 520 – 523

Source: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Explore further: More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

Related Stories

Ears, grips and fists take on mobile phone user ID

14 hours ago

A research project has been under way to explore a biometric authentication system dubbed Bodyprint, with interesting test results. Bodyprint has been designed to detect users' biometric features using the ...

More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

14 hours ago

A powerful aftershock shook Nepal on Sunday, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets a day after a massive earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead.

Recommended for you

Image: Sentinel-1A satellite images Florida

Apr 24, 2015

The peninsula sits between the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The large body of water at the top of the image is the freshwater Lake Okeechobee. Covering about 1900 sq km, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mikiwud
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2008
The changes were probably not global,but over much of the northern hemisphere as to change average global temperatures.It does show that CO2 is not the only cause (or not) of changes as a lot of scientists say if allowed to be heard by the public.
Can we protect these brave scientists from the Gorestapo?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.