Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-60
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-60

  30 Jun 2021

30 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

A new perspective of permafrost boundaries in France during the Last Glacial Maximum

Kim H. Albers1, Patrick Ludwig1, Pascal Bertran2,3, Pierre Antoine4, Xiaoxu Shi5, Gerrit Lohmann5,6, and Joaquim G. Pinto1 Kim H. Albers et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Inrap, Bègles, France
  • 3PACEA, CNRS-Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France
  • 4Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, CNRS, Meudon Cedex, France
  • 5Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 6MARUM and Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), a very cold and dry period around 26.5 to 19 thousand years ago, permafrost was widespread across Europe. In this work, we evaluate the potential of regional climate model simulations to reconstruct the permafrost distribution in western Europe during the LGM. With this aim, criteria for possible thermal contraction cracking of the ground are applied to climate model data for the first time. These criteria serve as a precondition for the development of ice and sand wedges, which are a common proxy for past permafrost. Our results show that the permafrost and ground cracking distribution in Europe during the LGM are not consistent with a large-scale circulation with prevailing westerly winds. However, a colder and with regard to proxy data more realistic version of the LGM climate is achieved given more frequent easterly winds conditions. Whereas the permafrost extent and ground cracking regions in the global climate model simulation deviate from proxy evidence, they are in good agreement in the regional counterpart. Given the appropriate forcing, an added value of the regional climate model simulation can thus be achieved. Furthermore, the model data provide evidence that thermal contraction cracking occurred in Europe during the LGM also south of the probable permafrost border. This enables the reconsideration of the significance of ice wedge pseudomorphs and sand wedge casts to understand past climate variations.

Kim H. Albers et al.

Status: open (until 25 Aug 2021)

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Kim H. Albers et al.

Kim H. Albers et al.

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Short summary
We use regional climate simulations for the Last Glacial Maximum to reconstruct permafrost and to identify areas of thermal contraction cracking of the ground in western Europe. We find ground cracking, a precondition for the development of permafrost proxies, also south of the probable permafrost border, implying that permafrost was not the limiting factor for proxy development. A good agreement with permafrost and climate proxy data is achieved when easterly winds are modelled more frequently.