We are just beyond the ice margin from the maximum of the last Ice Age, where it has been mapped 100 kilometres north of the town of Kotlas in north-western Russia.
Here, at Tolokonka, in a four kilometre-long cutting beside the River Dvina, an international team of scientists is busy studying the past changes in climate.
“Lakes have probably been situated here in two periods during the last Ice Age. We’ve found river delta deposits which suggest that the oldest lake formed some 65 000 years ago,” Eiliv Larsen, a geologist at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), tells me.
He is in charge of fieldwork being done in Russia as part of the SciencePub project during the International Polar Year. Along with colleagues from NGU, the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and Hertzen University in St. Petersburg, he is continually finding new pieces to fit into the last Ice Age jig-saw puzzle.
Right on the margin
The enormous lake stretched from Kotlas in the west to the village of UstNem in the east, just a few tens of kilometres from the Ural Mountains. Last year, the scientists found remnants of a lake near UstNem. Now, the same lake has been found 700-800 kilometres further west, in the long cutting at Tolokonka. The mighty River Dvina, meandering north-westwards through the flat landscape to Archangel, dominates this region today.
“We’re trying to find out just what these lakes have looked like. Where did the sediments come from and how did the lakes influence the environment and the climate in the region? Even though we’re just beyond the ice margin, we’re finding traces of the snout of a glacier that calved into the lake from the north. This probably took place around 20 000 years ago and this was the youngest lake in the region,” says Eiliv Larsen.
The future climate
The scientists also tell me that it is very interesting to find out what took place when the ice finally melted, the dams burst and the enormous volumes of dammed up fresh water poured into the Arctic Ocean. This must have had consequences for the climate system and the oceanic circulation, for example.
“We ourselves are urged on by curiosity. When we started working in these parts of Russia 12 or 13 years ago, very little research had been done on the Ice Age. The results of our work now form part of the framework which climate researchers are using to calculate the future climate,” says Eiliv Larsen.
He generally uses a keyhole as a metaphor. “From a distance, you see hardly anything of the inside of the room, but the closer you manage to put your eye to the keyhole, the more of the room becomes apparent. It’s the same with the research here in north-western Russia, we’re uncovering more and more of the Ice Age history and hence the past climate changes,” he says.
Eiliv Larsen | alfa
Arctic sea ice decline driving ocean phytoplankton farther north
16.10.2018 | American Geophysical Union
Smaller, more frequent eruptions affect volcanic flare-ups
12.10.2018 | Michigan Technological University
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.
Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
17.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
18.10.2018 | Life Sciences
17.10.2018 | Trade Fair News
17.10.2018 | Life Sciences