Holocene warming regional

August 14, 2012

Research confirms regional — not global — climate change in New Zealand and European glaciers during the preindustrial Holocene

Across the globe in the past century, mountain have been melting in response to warmer atmospheric temperatures. They include peaks in the European and Southern Alps — formations found on opposite sides of the globe.

New research led by scientists at the University of Maine’s Institute has documented that unlike the concurrent, widespread melting occurring today, glaciers in the European and Southern Alps 11,500 years ago experienced regional climate and oceanographic variability.

The findings of the international research team, led by then UMaine Ph.D. student in Earth sciences Aaron Putnam, provide evidence that changes in glacier behavior in the preindustrial age were not caused by global atmospheric warming. As reported this week in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that today’s glacier recession in New Zealand and Europe is unlike what occurred in those mountain ranges in the preindustrial Holocene period, and corresponds with human-produced greenhouse gases.

Putnam and his team worked on Cameron Glacier in the central Southern Alps. They reconstructed glacier fluctuations and associated temperature variations for the past 11,000 years using moraine geomorphology and high-precision beryllium-10 (10Be) surface exposure dating — a measure of the cosmogenic nuclide on rock faces to determine the age of landforms marking what were once the edges of glaciers. The researchers also used a geometrical method to reconstruct the height of past mountain snowlines, which are affected by atmospheric temperature.

Using this geologic record of mountain glaciers to quantify the history of atmospheric temperature, the research team found that Cameron and other glaciers in the Southern Alps retreated several centuries earlier than those in the European Alps.

Previous research has shown that beginning 11,500 years ago, glacier expansion occurred in the European Alps due to atmospheric cooling. That was followed in the 17th to 19th centuries by large-scale glacier retreat.

Putnam, a native of Chapman, Maine, now a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University, collaborated in his research with George Denton of the UMaine Climate Change Institute and scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, GNS Science in New Zealand, University of California, Berkeley and Victoria University.

Explore further: Shrinking glaciers: A chronology of climate change (w/ Video)

Related Stories

Swiss glacier finely tuned to climate changes

June 6, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- During the last ice age, the Rhone Glacier was the dominant glacier in the Alps, covering a significant part of Switzerland. Over the next 11,500 years or so, the glacier, which forms the headwaters of the ...

Southern glaciers grow out of step with North

April 30, 2009

The vast majority of the world’s glaciers are retreating as the planet gets warmer. But a few, including ones south of the equator, in South America and New Zealand, are inching forward.

Causes of melting tropical glaciers identified

June 20, 2011

The causes of melting of tropical glaciers over the past 10 000 years have at last been unveiled by a team of French researchers from CNRS, CEA, IRD and Universite Joseph Fourrier, together with a US researcher from the University ...

Recommended for you

New Amazon threat? Deforestation from mining

October 18, 2017

Sprawling mining operations in Brazil are destroying much more of the iconic Amazon forest than previously thought, says the first comprehensive study of mining deforestation in the world's largest tropical rainforest.

Scientists determine source of world's largest mud eruption

October 17, 2017

On May 29, 2006, mud started erupting from several sites on the Indonesian island of Java. Boiling mud, water, rocks and gas poured from newly-created vents in the ground, burying entire towns and compelling many Indonesians ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 14, 2012
I'm pretty sure if something happens in New Zealand and Europe simultaneously, the term would be global, not regional.
5 / 5 (5) Aug 14, 2012
That's what the article is saying, there's a difference of several hundred years between the respective warming events. I like the method they used, tracing cosmic ray etching on the rocks as the glacier retreated up the mountain, it's kinda cool :)
2 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2012
"That was followed in the 17th to 19th centuries by large-scale glacier retreat."

Way too simplistic.

"1816-25: New glacier offensive throughout Europe; all Alpine glaciers showed advances reaching positions slightly short of 17th century Alpine maximum limits."

not rated yet Aug 14, 2012
A fairly extensive collection of anecdotal data regarding glacier advances in historical times, especially 1740-1855 (the so-called 'Little Ice Age'):
3.6 / 5 (7) Aug 14, 2012
Poor, Delusional ParkerTard. His mental disease is now so profound that he can't even read without his diseased mind altering the meaning to support his unreal world view.

"the research team found that Cameron and other glaciers in the Southern Alps (New Zealand) retreated several centuries earlier than those in the European Alps." - Article

"I'm pretty sure if something happens in New Zealand and Europe simultaneously, the term would be global, not regional." - ParkerTard

ParkerTard is now regularly confusing black for white.

His mental disease is in the terminal phase.
2 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2012
If you read the article on glaciers, some reach their maximum around 1900 and some reached their maximum well before.

Some started retreating early, some didn't retreat until much later.

11,500 years ago was the end of the Younger Dryas, a very unique occurrence.

Too bad the authors of this paper had no interest in the MWP or Roman Optimum etc.

"1860-80s: Evidence of pronounced glacier withdrawal all over continental Europe; many Alpine glaciers retreated >1 km by end of 19th century. Icelandic glaciers remained in advanced positions, however."

"1920-30s: Glaciers declined rapidly everywhere, except Antarctica; end of Little Ice Ages."

3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 15, 2012
Poor ParkerTard. He just isn't capable of comprehending. Unlike today where virtually every glacier on the planet is receeding, 11,500 years ago, there were periods of glacial advancement in some areas of the globe while there was retreat elsewhere.

Thus the cooling associated with the glacial advance was regional.

Poor, mentally diseased ParkerTard. His mental condition is now terminal.

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.