29 Sep 2023
 | 29 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Reconstructing Younger Dryas Ground Temperature and Snow Thickness from Cave Deposits

Paul Töchterle, Anna Baldo, Julian B. Murton, Frederik Schenk, R. Lawrence Edwards, Gabriella Koltai, and Gina E. Moseley

Abstract. The Younger Dryas Stadial was characterized by a rapid shift towards cold-climate conditions in the North Atlantic realm during the last deglaciation. While some climate parameters including atmospheric temperature and glacier extent are widely studied, empirical constraints on permafrost temperature and snow thickness are limited. To address this, we present a regional dataset of cryogenic cave carbonates (CCCs) from three caves in Great Britain that formed at temperatures between −2 and 0 °C. Our CCC record indicates that these permafrost temperatures persisted for most of the Younger Dryas. By 15 combining ground temperatures with surface temperatures from high-resolution, ground-truthed model simulations, we demonstrate that ground temperatures were approximately 6.6 ± 2.3 °C warmer than the mean annual air temperature. Our results suggest that the observed temperature offset between permafrost and the atmosphere can be explained by an average snow thickness between 0.2 and 0.9 m, which persisted for 233 ± 54 days per year.

Paul Töchterle et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2023-72', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on cp-2023-72', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Nov 2023

Paul Töchterle et al.

Paul Töchterle et al.


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Short summary
We present a reconstruction of permafrost and snow cover on the British Isles for the Younger Dryas period, a time of extremely cold winters that happened approximately 12.000 years ago. Our results indicate that seasonal sea ice in the North Atlantic was most likely a curcial factor to explain the observed climate shifts during this time.