Learn how plants respond to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations

How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic


Gorner Glacier, Alps of Valais, Switzerland
Reference
Holzhauser, H., Magny, M. and Zumbuhl, H.J. 2005. Glacier and lake-level variations in west-central Europe over the last 3500 years. The Holocene 15: 789-801.

Description
Holzhauser et al. present a high-resolution record of glacial variation for Gorner glacier, in the Alps of Valis, Switzerland (~46.05N, 7.62E), as part of an effort to develop a 3500-year climate history of west-central Europe. In their estimation, "at no other glacier in the Swiss Alps ... [is] the Mediaeval Climatic Optimum so well documented as at the Gorner glacier," especially when the glacier retreated to levels beyond that of the present-day between AD 800 and 1100. Because glaciers in mountain areas are "highly sensitive to climate changes and thus provide one of nature's clearest signals of warming or cooling and/or dry and wet climate periods," as they describe it, "one can say that the quasi periodical fluctuations of Alpine glaciers were driven by glacier-hostile (warm/dry) and glacier-friendly (cool/wet) periods." On this basis, therefore, one can cautiously conclude that temperatures at Gorner Glacier were likely warmer during the Medieval Warm Period than they have been recently.