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Gewählte Publikation:

Braumann, SM; Schaefer, JM; Neuhuber, S; Fiebig, M.
(2022): Moraines in the Austrian Alps record repeated phases of glacier stabilization through the Late Glacial and the Early Holocene
SCI REP-UK. 2022; 12(1), 9438 FullText FullText_BOKU

Climate is currently warming due to anthropogenic impact on the Earth's atmosphere. To better understand the processes and feedbacks within the climate system that underlie this accelerating warming trend, it is useful to examine past periods of abrupt climate change that were driven by natural forcings. Glaciers provide an excellent natural laboratory for reconstructing the climate of the past as they respond sensitively to climate oscillations. Therefore, we study glacier systems and their behavior during the transition from colder to warmer climate phases, focusing on the period between 15 and 10 ka. Using a combination of geomorphological mapping and beryllium-10 surface exposure dating, we reconstruct ice extents in two glaciated valleys of the Silvretta Massif in the Austrian Alps. The mountain glacier record shows that general deglaciation after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was repeatedly interrupted by glacier stabilization or readvance, perhaps during the Oldest Dryas to Bolling transition (landform age: 14.4 +/- 1.0 ka) and certainly during the Younger Dryas (YD; 12.9-11.7 ka) and the Early Holocene (EH; 12-10 ka). The oldest landform age indicates a lateral ice margin that postdates the 'Gschnitz' stadial (ca. 17-16 ka) and predates the YD. It shows that local inner-alpine glaciers were more extensive until the onset of the Bolling warm phase (ca. 14.6 ka), or possibly even into the Bolling than during the subsequent YD. The second age group, ca. 80 m below the (pre-)Bolling ice margin, indicates glacier extents during the YD cold phase and captures the spatial and temporal fine structure of glacier retreat during this period. The ice surface lowered approximately 50-60 m through the YD, which is indicative of milder climate conditions at the end of the YD compared to its beginning. Finally, the third age group falls into a period of more substantial warming, the YD-EH transition, and shows discontinuous glacier retreat during the glacial to interglacial transition. The new geochronologies synthesized with pre-existing moraine records from the Silvretta Massif evidence multiple cold phases that punctuated the general post-LGM warming trend and illustrate the sensitive response of Silvretta glaciers to abrupt climate oscillations in the past.
Autor*innen der BOKU Wien:
Braumann Sandra
Fiebig Markus
Neuhuber Stephanie
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