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
New insight into glaciers regulating global silicon cycling
14.08.2019 | University of Bristol
Coastal marine sediments contribute to the formation of greenhouse gases
31.07.2019 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.
Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...
Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.
Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...
Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.
The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...
An international team of scientists involving the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has unraveled the light-induced electron-localization dynamics in transition metals at the attosecond timescale. The team investigated for the first time the many-body electron dynamics in transition metals before thermalization sets in. Their work has now appeared in Nature Physics.
The researchers from ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the MPSD (Germany), the Center for Computational Sciences of University of Tsukuba (Japan) and the Center for...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
16.08.2019 | Life Sciences
16.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2019 | Medical Engineering