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The last major cold age on Earth was a 1,100 year Lv Belt Original long chill that began more than 12,800 years ago. The period, sometimes nicknamed the "Big Freeze," is technically known as theYounger Dryas. (This era was not a glacial period, often called an ice age, but rather a cold time in the relatively warm spans between glacial periods.)
Past research suggested there might have been a delay between the start of the cooling and the dramatic effects seen on forests in Europe. However, it was uncertain whether this delay was real it might have been due to dating methods' unclear results, Sachse said.
The researchers discovered that about 170 years after temperatures fell in Europe, land plant remains had greater levels of deuterium than aquatic plant molecules did, suggesting the environment became much drier. As a result, forests vanished and grasslands grew.
In the future, the researchers want to determine how much drier Europe got because of the Big Freeze.
Water molecules are made from hydrogen and oxygen. Water made with deuterium is less likely to evaporate than water made with regular hydrogen, since deuterium is heavier than regular hydrogen. This means deuterium laden "heavy water" is less likely to evaporate from land plants, so it builds in their systems when environments are drier. On the other hand, aquatic plants do not lose water via evaporation because they are surrounded by water, so the ratio between heavy and regular water stays relatively unchanged in their systems.
Puzzling delayAnalysis of fossils also revealed that after this cold began, "maybe half of the forests in certain locations in Europe were gone, replaced by grasslands," Sachse said.
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colleagues analyzed more sediment from Lake Meerfelder Maar.
Researchers have suggested these centuries of cold helped wipe out most of the large mammals in North America as well as the so calledClovis people, which archaeologists had long thought were the first Americans. A great deal of controversy exists regarding the origins of this cold the prevailing theory is that it was triggered bya giant flood of Arctic meltwater, although others claim it was caused bya meteor impact.
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In 2013, scientists discovered evidence that this delayed response actually happened a layer of volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland found in ancient mud on the floor of Lake Meerfelder Maar in western Germany. This ash was the same as ash seen inGreenland ice coresthat also recorded when the cooling began. (Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled from glaciers and ice sheets that allow scientists to examine the layers of ice deposited over hundreds and thousands of years, akin to tree rings, that record what conditions were like on Earth at the time.) When combined, these two lines of evidence confirmed that changes seen in Europe's forests occurred about 170 years after the chilling started. [7 Ways the Earth Changes in the Blink of an Eye]
"This delay was about 200 years long, and puzzling to a lot of people," Sachse said.
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Ancient 'Big Freeze' Rapidly Wiped Out European Forests
A major cold age that descended on Earth nearly 13,000 years ago is linked with a widely studied and debated mass extinction of large mammals, such as ground sloths, in North America. But the effects of this so called "Big Freeze" weren't limited to North America: New research shows that forests throughout Europe vanished within two centuries of the onset of this frigid time.
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The Big Freeze affected not only North America, but also Europe. Hermes Belt 42mm
To learn more about this delay, Sachse and his Hermes Belt Price For Men
"Explaining how this time lag happened was exciting," Sachse said.
The results, detailed online Jan. 19 in the journal Nature Geoscience, show that changes in climate can happen rapidly, when compared to geologic timescales."In just a few human lifetimes, the environment can change abruptly and quite significantly," Sachse said. "Changes in the water cycle can really amplify the environmental effects of changes in temperature."
"It got much colder between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius [7 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit] over the course of hundreds of years. Winters were very cold and got much longer, and summers were much shorter than before."
"The water cycle changes we observe are a consequence of the temperature changes," Sachse said. "This makes this work relevant for better understanding future climate change."
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These findings highlight the way the environment can shift drastically over the course of just a few human lifetimes, the researchers said.
Rapid changePrior studies found that 170 years after the onset of cooling, North Atlantic winter sea ice reached southward enough to channel dry polar air into western Europe, thus drying out the area.
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