Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Younger Dryas stadial, named after the alpine / tundra wildflower Dryas octopetala, and also referred to as the Big Freeze,
The Younger Dryas (GS1) is also a Blytt-Sernander climate period detected from layers in north European bog peat. It is dated approximately 12,900-11,500 BP calibrated, or 11,000-10,000 BP uncalibrated. An Older Dryas stadial had preceded the Allerød, approximately 1000 years before the Younger Dryas; it lasted 300 years.[2]

Abrupt climate change
Answering this question is hampered by the lack of a precise definition of "Younger Dryas" in all the records. In western Europe and Greenland, the Younger Dryas is a well-defined synchronous cool period.[3] But cooling in the tropical North Atlantic may have preceded this by a few hundred years; South America shows a less well defined initiation but a sharp termination. The Antarctic Cold Reversal appears to have started a thousand years before the Younger Dryas, and has no clearly defined start or end; Huybers has argued that there is fair confidence in the absence of the Younger Dryas in Antarctica, New Zealand and parts of Oceania. Similarly the Southern Hemisphere cooling known as the Deglaciation Climate Reversal (DCR) began approximately 1kyr before the YD, between 14kya and 11.5 kya as noted in the Sajama ice core. The Andean climate returned to LGM conditions with colder temperatures coupled with higher precipitation (high lake stands in the Altiplano). indicates Younger Dryas cooling in the pacific Northwest.
Other features seen include:

Replacement of forest in Scandinavia with glacial tundra (which is the habitat of the plant Dryas octopetala).
Glaciation or increased snow in mountain ranges around the world.
Formation of solifluction layers and loess deposits in Northern Europe.
More dust in the atmosphere, originating from deserts in Asia.
Drought in the Levant, perhaps motivating the Natufian culture to invent agriculture.
The Huelmo/Mascardi Cold Reversal in the Southern Hemisphere began slightly before the Younger Dryas and ended at the same time. Younger Dryas Causes of the Younger Dryas
Measurements of oxygen isotopes from the GISP2 ice core suggest the ending of the Younger Dryas took place over just 40 - 50 years in three discrete steps, each lasting five years. Other proxy data, such as dust concentration, and snow accumulation, suggest an even more rapid transition, requiring a ~7 °C warming in just a few years.

The end of the Younger Dryas
The Younger Dryas is often linked to the adoption of agriculture in the Levant. See the Neolithic Revolution, when hunter gatherers turned to farming.

See also

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