Recent Findings: Austrian Glacier Extent Over Most Of The Past 10,000 Years Less Than Today!

Climate change in Austria: Alpine glaciers thousands of years ago smaller than today

By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(German text translated/edited by P Gosselin)

In 1998 there were 925 glaciers and large ice masses in Austria with an area of 1 hectare or more, in total 453 square kilometers. Fifty percent of the Austrian glacier area are found in the Ötztal Alps and Venice Alps groups.

All measured glaciers in Austria have significantly lost area and volume in the period since 1980. For example, in the southern Ötztal Alps, the largest contiguous glacier area in Austria, glacier area decreased from 144.2 km² in 1969 to 126.6 km² in 1997 and 116.1 km² in 2006 (APCC 2014).

Post Little Ice Age

Previously, in the 1960s and 1970s, considerable glacial advances had occurred in Austria for a few years (Fig. 1). Over the long run, however, there has been a marked melting trend over the last century and a half. This loss of ice fits well with the rise in temperature during the rewarming since the end of the Little Ice Age.

Figure 1: Annual ice mass balances 1952-2011. Negative values ​​mean ice melt, positive values ​​mark ice gains, 1952-2011. Source: APCC 2014 as to Fischer et al. (2012).

However, the longer-term climate context is also important. 1000 years ago – at the time of the Medieval Warm Period – many Alpine glaciers were as small as they are today. In the transition over to the Little Ice Age, the glaciers in the Alps grew strongly, and reached their greatest extent for the past 10,000 years.

At the end of the Little Ice Age, the glaciers started to melt again, and this continues today. In the Swiss glaciers this has led to the frequent finding of tree remnants from the time of 1000 years A.D., i.e. the Medieval Warm Period. Obviously parts of today’s glacial areas were forested during the times of strong glacier retreat.

Much of the Holocene saw less glaciers in Alps than today

Another more intensive melting phase had already occurred 8000 to 4000 years ago during the so-called Holocene Warm Period when many glaciers were smaller than they are today (Fig. 2).

At the Gepatschferner, the treeline back then was considerably higher than today. There glacier advances and retreats occurred in cycles over the past 4000 years (Nicolussi & Kerschner 2014). The Austrian Expert Report on Climate Change 2014 summarized the pre-industrial glacier lengths in Austria as follows (APCC 2014, Volume 2, Chapter 2):

The glaciers in the Alpine region during the last 11,000 years [Holocene] have been characterized by long periods of comparatively small size in the early and middle Holocene (up to 4,000 years ago) and multiple, far reaching advances, which culminated in the largest glaciers in the “Little Ice Age” (about 1260 to 1860 AD). Today’s glacier extents are repeatedly less or more than in the Early and Middle Holocene.”

Figure 2: Years before 2000 AD. The blue bars mark the times when many alpine glaciers were less than today. Shown are data based on tree rings and C14 dating. Chart changed as to APCC 2014.

35 responses to “Recent Findings: Austrian Glacier Extent Over Most Of The Past 10,000 Years Less Than Today!”

  1. Ric Werme

    Several years ago I came across two or three articles describing how glacial melt today was exposing evidence past less coverage around 6,000 years ago during the Holocene Optimum.

    So I wrote a web page and have occasionally added to it. That period has gone a long way to not stressing over current melting.

    See http://wermenh.com/climate/6000.html

  2. SebastianH

    I hope this is not another attempt at “it was warm before”. Is it? Combine it with “the current change isn’t larger/faster than past ones (e.g. within the boundaries of natural variations of the past)” and you got yourself a full set of logical fallacies 😉

    1. Kenneth Richard

      I hope this is not another attempt at “it was warm before”. Is it?

      Yes, we know you don’t like it when science finds there is nothing unusual, unprecedented, or even remarkable about the current climate conditions, or that modern temperatures are only slightly warmer than the coldest centuries of the last 10,000 years.

      10 New Reconstructions Show Today’s Temperatures Still Among The Coldest Of The Last 10,000 Years

      1. SebastianH

        Yes, we know you don’t like it when science finds there is nothing unusual, unprecedented, or even remarkable about the current climate conditions

        Science doesn’t find that …

        or that modern temperatures are only slightly warmer than the coldest centuries of the last 10,000 years.

        Nope.

        1. spike55

          SEB, in DENIAL of the FACTS, yet again.

          Science DOES find that there is NOTHING unusual happening with the climate.

          Science DOES find that the planet is only a small amount above the COLDEST period in 10,000 years

          Science DOES find that Arctic sea ice extent is in the top 5-10% of the last 10,000 years

          You have NO SCIENCE that says otherwise.

          You have been TOTALLY INCAPABLE of producing ANY REAL SCIENCE to back up even the most basic fallacy of the AGW scam

          1. SebastianH

            You have NO SCIENCE that says otherwise.

            Well, since you are making these claims … where is the science that supports them? Since you find it to be ok to reply with no source or nonsense sources in rare cases, a simple “nope” from me should be enough too …

          2. spike55

            Simple solution to get around your constant attention-seeking troll attempt and empty content, seb

            PRESENT THE SCIENCE. !!!

            STOP running and hiding behind your mindless bluster.

            First one doesn’t need support. You have never presented any evidence of anything unusual happening with climate.

            Just above Coldest period
            https://i.postimg.cc/L4fpR9nb/LIA_freeze.jpg

            Arctic sea ice just down from highest

            https://i.postimg.cc/TYWZMHb1/Arctic-_Sea-_Ice-_Changes-_Chukchi-_Sea-_Yamamoto-2017.jpg

            https://i.postimg.cc/LXmygrQ0/Arctic-_Sea-_Ice-_Extent-_North-of-_Iceland-3000-_Years-_Moffa-_S_nchez-.jpg

            https://i.postimg.cc/Jz7j7h4N/Arctic-_Sea-_Ice-_Holocene-_Stein-17.jpg

            It must be very sad for you, seb, having to be a Climate Change DENIER to push your anti-science AGW beliefs.

        2. Kenneth Richard
          1. SebastianH

            Do you think there is no global warming (“global warming disputed” / “non-warming graphs”)?

            Or is this another instance of “it’s not global when only a few places warm and others are cooling”? Even though it’s warming on average …

          2. Kenneth Richard

            Do you think there is no global warming

            150 NON-Global Warming Graphs From 2017 Pummel Claims Of Unusual Modern Warmth
            “Yes, some regions of the Earth have been warming in recent decades or at some point in the last 100 years. Some regions have been cooling for decades at a time. And many regions have shown no significant net changes or trends in either direction relative to the last few hundred to thousands of years.”

            “Succinctly, then, scientists publishing in peer-reviewed journals have increasingly affirmed that there is nothing historically unprecedented or remarkable about today’s climate when viewed in the context of long-term natural variability.”

          3. SebastianH

            “Yes, some regions of the Earth have been warming in recent decades or at some point in the last 100 years. Some regions have been cooling for decades at a time. And many regions have shown no significant net changes or trends in either direction relative to the last few hundred to thousands of years.”

            So you choose to completely ignore that the global heat content increases at a rate that matches the imbalance created by the enhanced GHE?

            Because “some regions have been cooling for decades at a time” …

            “Succinctly, then, scientists publishing in peer-reviewed journals have increasingly affirmed that there is nothing historically unprecedented or remarkable about today’s climate when viewed in the context of long-term natural variability.”

            Even if that were true for climate science as a whole, why do you think that excludes that humans are causing the current warming?

          4. Kenneth Richard

            So you choose to completely ignore that the global heat content increases at a rate that matches the imbalance created by the enhanced GHE?

            The global heat content is nothing more than the net change after calculating all the regions where cooling has taken place with the regions where warming has taken place. It amounts to +0.02 K since the 1990s (Wunsch, 2018) and can be explained as the response to decreasing cloud cover, since cloud cover changes are what determines positive vs. negative radiative forcing values. The uncertainty in the alleged anthropogenic forcing is much larger than the alleged forcing value itself, as shown here:

            http://notrickszone.com/2017/03/13/uncertainties-errors-in-radiative-forcing-estimates-10-100-times-larger-than-entire-radiative-effect-of-increasing-co2/

          5. spike55

            Oceans warming by 0.08C in 60 years, with a Grand Solar Maximum during that time.

            Only warming in 40 years has come from El Nino ocean releases.

            Less than 1C warming out of the coldest period in 10,000 years.

            Absolutely ZERO evidence that any real warming is from atmospheric CO2

            And yes we know that the GISS data “adjustments” just happen to match CO2, increase.. that’s the only “man-made” warming, but its a fabrication, part of the AGW fantasy.

    2. spike55

      Only “logical fallacy” around here is YOU, seb

      You BELIEVE is things that have absolutely ZERO scientific evidence to support them, and DENY the facts about the real cause of atmospheric temperature.

      http://tech-know-group.com/papers/Role_of_GHE-EaE.pdf

      Your whole troll-life is built on “logical fallacy”

      Not one skerrick of evidential science.

      You can’t even answer basic questions, that’s how pathetic your fallacy is. Totally ILLOGICAL.

      Q1. In what way has the climate changed in the last 40 years, that can be scientifically attributable to human CO2 ?

      Q2. Do you have ANY EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE at all that humans have changed the global climate in ANYWAY WHATSOEVER?

      1. Bitter&twisted

        Tempting as it is DNCWTRT 😁

      2. SebastianH

        Dear master troll, please provide evidence for anything you’ve claimed over the past year … and don’t project your own shortcoming onto others. Thank you.

        1. spike55

          Poor seb, STILL trying to run and hide from two simple questions

          I wonder if he knows how pathetic he is.

          My main claim has been that there is NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE for atmospheric CO2 warming

          You have shown a complete inability to counter that FACT.

  3. carol

    I have been reading Kyle Harper’s, ‘The Fate of Rome: climate, disease, and the end of an empire’ which has a considerable bit about what he calls the Roman Climatic Optimum, dating it between 200BC and 150AD (although other historians seem to favour it lasting until 200AD or a bit longer). He says the optimum was a completely different climate to today with the Mediterranean basin basically humid. Ptolemy the scientist is on record as saying that it rained in Alexandria every month of the year apart from August – which is quite different from today’s climate. Mediterranean climate after the end of the optimum (during the 4th and 5th century AD) was much more like today’s climate where Azores Highs cause dry weather in summer and the rain to fall mainly in the winters. NW Europe on the other hand (in the 4th and 5th centuries AD) was dominated by Icelandic Lows = lots of rain (and cool weather in comparison to what it had been in the Optimum). Harper makes the point that when Hannibal led his armies across the Alps what are today glaciers did not exist. Pliny the Elder also had something to say about the weather if I remember rightly. He also says that elephants lived wild in the Atlas mountains, a relic of the early to mid Holocene when the Sahara was green. This was the source of Hannibal’s elephants.

    1. Yonason

      @carol

      Thanks for the backstory.

    2. spike55

      There is a very good reason that the 200 or so years leading up to the Little Ice Age was called the NEOGLACIATION.

      That is the period when most of the current non-polar glaciers were formed, as the Earth COOLED to the coldest period outside of a major ice age.

      We are VERY FORTUNATE to have had even a small amount of natural warming since that coldest of periods.

      Why feeble-minded gullible people would think the slight warming since the LIA has been anything but TOTALLY NATURAL and TOTALLY BENEFICIAL defies “BELIEF”

      1. spike55

        just saw a typo.. First line

        There is a very good reason that the 2000 or so years leading up to the Little Ice Age was called the NEOGLACIATION.

  4. John F. Hultquist

    For those interested in Earth and not to get involved in the current discussion:
    Lakes of Ounianga

    1. John Brown

      John say, thank you John.
      Here nice Video for Sahara. Very good explanations.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIAkJg8knTI

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