Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos in northern and eastern Europe until about 8000 BC


A new paper with open access has appeared in Quaternary Science Reviews, authored by Patton et al.: Deglaciation of the Eurasian ice sheet complex, which offers a new model investigating the retreat of this ice sheet and its many impacts.

According to the comments of professor Alun Hubbard, the paper’s second author and a leading glaciologist:

To place it in context, this is almost 10 times the current rates of ice lost from Greenland and Antarctica today. What’s fascinating is that not all Eurasian ice retreat was from surface melting alone. Its northern and western sectors across the Barents Sea, Norway and Britain terminated directly into the sea. They underwent rapid collapse through calving of vast armadas of icebergs and undercutting of the ice margin by warm ocean currents.

Some speculate that at some points during the European deglaciation, this river system had a discharge twice that of the Amazon today. Based on our latest reconstruction of this system, we have calculated that its catchment area was similar to that of the Mississippi. It was certainly the largest river system to have ever drained the Eurasian continent.

One thing that we show pretty well in this study is that our simulation is relevant to a range of different research disciplines, not only glaciology. It can even be useful for archaeologists who look at human migration routes, and are interested to see how the European environment developed over the last 20,000 years.

Interesting is its effect on population movements in eastern Europe, including the steppe, the forest-steppe, and the Forest Zone, during the Younger Dryas period and thereafter.

Another, recent build-up article on this model also by Patton and cols. of december 2016, in the same journal, is The build-up, configuration, and dynamical sensitivity of the Eurasian ice-sheet complex to Late Weichselian climatic and oceanic forcing. A summary is found at the University of Tromso website.

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Featured image: Younger Dryas period, from the article.

Academic journals can’t be trusted to tell the scientific truth

Dutch researcher Julian Kirchherr has published an interesting article in The Guardian about the reliability of academic journals, and the consequences for the academic world that orbits around them.

Science (and more specifically the scientific publication market) is in a major crisis, and journals are publishing a large amount of articles with fake results – which cannot be replicated in other experiments -, and even false data fabricated by researchers.

The interesting aspect of Mr. Kirchherr’s opinion is that, unlike many others who criticize the shortcomings of the publishing industry, he stresses the value of performance indicators – such as the number of papers published in high-impact journals – for academic institutions.

However, not only novel and surprising results (many of them made by chance) should be taken into account, but also good (and dull) research that doesn’t produce great discoveries, as well as the teaching prowess of a researcher.

The solution cannot be to revolutionize or get rid of the publishing industry: what we need is a proper evolution of a system in crisis, including a general, healthy distrust of methods, materials, results and discussion of any article published in any journal, and not only major scandals.