Climate chill came exactly 12,679 years ago: study

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A drastic cooling of the climate in western Europe happened exactly 12,679 years ago, apparently after a shift to icy winds over the Atlantic, scientists said on Friday, giving a hint of how abruptly the climate can change.

The study, of pollens, minerals and other matter deposited in annual layers at the bottom of Lake Meerfelder Maar in Germany, pinpointed an abrupt change in sediments consistent with a sudden chill over just one year.

"Our data indicate an abrupt increase in storminess during the autumn to spring seasons, occurring from one year to the next at 12,679 years before the present, broadly coincident with other changes in this region," they wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Scientists have long known about the sharp chill towards the end of the last Ice Age, known as the Younger Dryas cooling. The study by researchers in Germany, Switzerland and the United States may help clear up the causes and exact duration.

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