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Geomorphologic and paleoclimatic evidence of Holocene glaciation on Mount Olympus, Greece

Abstract : This study investigates the possibility of Holocene glaciation on Mount Olympus (Greece) with a respective local temperature–precipitation equilibrium line altitude (TP-ELA) at c. 2200m a.s.l., based on geomorphologic and paleoclimatic evidence. At present, the local TP-ELA is situated above the mountain’s summit (c. 2918 m a.s.l.), but permanent snowfields and ice bodies survive within Megala Kazania cirque between c. 2400 and c. 2300 m a.s.l., because of the cirque’s maritime setting that results from its close proximity (c. 18km) to the Aegean Sea and of the local topographical controls. The snow and ice bodies occupied a considerably larger area and attained a stabilization phase between AD 1960 and 1980, also manifested from aerial photographs, a period characterized by increased winter precipitation (Pw) with subsequent TP-ELA depression to c. 2410m a.s.l. Mid- to late-20th- century Pw and TP-ELA variations exhibit negative correlations with the winter North Atlantic Oscillation index (NAOw) at annual and multidecadal (30 years) timescales. Late Holocene (AD 1680–1860) reconstructed summer mean temperatures were lower by Ts < 1.1°C in relation to the reference period between AD 1960 and 1980 and were also superimposed to negative NAOw phases, thus bracketing this time interval as a favorable one to glacial formation and/or advance. Millennial-scale annual precipitation reconstructions at the hypothesized TP-ELA (c. 2200m a.s.l.) point the period between 8 and 4 kyr BP as another glacier-friendly candidate. The mid-Holocene rather simplistic sequence of potential glacial advance phase was disturbed by short-lived cold climatic deteriorations, well-documented over the northern Aegean region that may partly explain the multicrested shape of the highest (c. 2200 m a.s.l.) morainic complex of Megala Kazania cirque.
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Michael Nikolaos Styllas, Irene Schimmelpfennig, Matthieu Ghilardi, Lucilla Benedetti. Geomorphologic and paleoclimatic evidence of Holocene glaciation on Mount Olympus, Greece. The Holocene, London: Sage, 2016, 26 (5), pp.709-721. ⟨10.1177/0959683615618259⟩. ⟨hal-01469876⟩



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