Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis

wikipedia |  The Younger Dryas is a climatic event from c. 12,900 to c. 11,700 calendar years ago (BP). It is named after an indicator genus, the alpine-tundra wildflower Dryas octopetala, as its leaves are occasionally abundant in the Late Glacial, often minerogenic-rich, like the lake sediments of Scandinavian lakes.

The Younger Dryas saw a sharp decline in temperature over most of the Northern Hemisphere, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, immediately before the current, warmer Holocene. The Younger Dryas was the most recent and longest of several interruptions to the gradual warming of the Earth's climate since the severe Last Glacial Maximum, c. 27,000 to 24,000 calendar years BP. The change was relatively sudden, taking place in decades, and it resulted in a decline of 2 to 6 degrees Celsius and advances of glaciers and drier conditions, over much of the temperate northern hemisphere. It is thought to have been caused by a decline in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, which transports warm water from the Equator towards the North Pole, in turn thought to have been caused by an influx of fresh cold water from North America to the Atlantic.

The Younger Dryas was a period of climatic change, but the effects were complex and variable. In the Southern Hemisphere and some areas of the Northern Hemisphere, such as southeastern North America, there was a slight warming.[1]

The presence of a distinct cold period at the end of the Late Glacial interval has been known for a long time. Paleobotanical and lithostratigraphic studies of Swedish and Danish bog and lake sites, like in the Allerød clay pit in Denmark, first recognized and described the Younger Dryas.[2][3][4][5]

wikipedia |  The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis or Clovis comet hypothesis originally proposed that a large air burst or earth impact of one or more comets initiated the Younger Dryas cold period about 12,900 BP calibrated (10,900 14C uncalibrated) years ago.[1][2][3] The hypothesis has been contested by research showing that most of the conclusions cannot be repeated by other scientists, and criticized because of misinterpretation of data and the lack of confirmatory evidence.[4][5][6][7]

The current impact hypothesis states that the air burst(s) or impact(s) of a swarm of carbonaceous chondrites or comet fragments set areas of the North American continent on fire, causing the extinction of most of the megafauna in North America and the demise of the North American Clovis culture after the last glacial period.[8] The Younger Dryas ice age lasted for about 1,200 years before the climate warmed again. This swarm is hypothesized to have exploded above or possibly on the Laurentide Ice Sheet in the region of the Great Lakes, though no impact crater has yet been identified and no physical model by which such a swarm could form or explode in the air has been proposed. Nevertheless, the proponents suggest that it would be physically possible for such an air burst to have been similar to, but orders of magnitude larger than, the Tunguska event of 1908. The hypothesis proposed that animal and human life in North America not directly killed by the blast or the resulting coast-to-coast wildfires would have likely starved on the burned surface of the continent.