The abrupt temperature changes and the effect on the environment that occurred 12,680 years ago during the Younger Dryas period have been explained by a new fossil analysis that was presented by scientists from the University of Potsdam, Germany and the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in the Jan. 19, 2014, edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.
Changes in the water cycle were found to be the major drivers of environmental change that occurred after the major cooling event that was initiated 12,680 years ago. The 170 year delay of the impact of the event on plant and animal life in Europe was produced by changes in atmospheric circulation patterns.
The changes in atmospheric circulation patterns were confirmed by ice samples from Greenland that correlate to the time frames of the initiation of the Younger Dryas and the eventual effect in Europe.
The researchers evaluated the impact of the event on plant and animal life in laminated lake sediments extracted from Meerfelder Maar Lake in the Eifel region of western Germany. Dating of the organic material was accomplished by comparison of the ratios of heavy hydrogen (deuterium) to hydrogen.
This is the first physical evidence unearthed that indicates the effect of abrupt temperature changes are not immediately felt in weather changes but are dependent on water cycles.