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ANR-funded project


Glaciers in a warming world:

Lessons from Holocene records based on the novel cosmogenic nuclide dating tool “in situ carbon-14”

Glacier Blanc, Massif des Ecrins

Why this project?

The current near-global retreat of mountain glaciers is among the most visible and worrisome evidence of the warming earth. What is the significance of this rapid ice retreat today and within a longer time perspective? Glaciers sensitively react to small climate variations, in particular temperature and precipitation changes. Understanding the response of glaciers to climate changes during the Holocene, the current interglacial which started ~11,500 years ago, offers the opportunity to assess the effects of the ongoing climate change on land ice masses, because the Holocene is characterized by moderate-amplitude climate variability with climate conditions similar to those existing at present.




The goal of this project is to provide data on paleo-glacier dynamics and thus to offer a basis to refine glacier models, which aim at predicting future ice retreat.

To this end, we develop the new cosmogenic dating tool “in situ 14C” in France, because it allows us to reconstruct the glacier response to warm periods during the Holocene (past ~12 kyr), which represent a similar analogue to future climate-glacier scenarios. The approach is based on the nuclide pair in situ 14C/10Be used to exposure-date recently deglaciated proglacial bedrock and providing information of how long it was ice-free during the Holocene. We apply this novel approach, combined with 10Be moraine dating, in the European Alps, where glaciers are currently rapidly receding, and produce precise glacier chronologies, allowing the evaluation of the ongoing glacier retreat. 

Glacier d'Argentière, Massif du Mont Blanc

The scientific project WarHol is funded by the Agence Nationale de Recherche (ANR). It is coordinated by Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and led by Irene Schimmelpfennig at Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE, Aix en Provence, France).

Glacier de St Sorlin, Massif des Grandes Rousses

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