How will the melting of ice in Greenland affect our climate? In order to gain an idea how that process might look like, researchers have taken a look into the past. In the early Holocene period – approximately 11,700 to 8,000 years ago – a large ice sheet melted in North America. By analysing dripstones in caves (speleothems) and using computer simulations, an international team headed by Dr Jasper Wassenburg at Ruhr-Universität Bochum reconstructed the consequences: today, a negative correlation is observed in the amount of rainfall in north-western Africa and north-western Europe. If a humid winter climate prevails in north-western Europe, the climate in north-western Africa is dry. Due to melting ice sheets, this correlation was reversed in the early Holocene period; this resulted in both regions being humid respectively dry at the same time. Radical climate change occurred. The researchers have published their report in the current edition of Nature Geoscience.
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