Ice-Age Scandinavia

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As the ice floss retreated, so the hunter-gatherers moved north, colonizing the Nordic lands and giving rise to the Viking Age.

For 1.6 million years, Scandinavian languished under an ice-sheet that oozed out of the Jostedalsbreen in Norway, stretched as far as the British Isles and Moscow, and was 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) thick.

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When eventually it melted, nomadic hunters and gatherers went after plants and animals that surfaced in the wake. Some 12,000 years ago, the peninsula celebrated its final liberation from the crushing weight of the icy rising like bread in an oven.

Unleavened Denmark, however, remained barely above the sea level, the largest bridge with Norway and Sweden broken.

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Contrary to the established view, new research shows that conifers grew in northern Scandinavia in the glacial period despite several kilometre thick ice sheets.

Up to now, most scientists have subscribed to the general view that the advancing ice presented all living things with an ultimatum: Go south or die out!

But now an international research team claims that the glaciations has not been total, and that there must have been some retreats with ice-free areas where trees could survive tens of thousands of years of glaciation.

“This means that we need to rethink how life reacts to global climate changes and that life on Earth is a lot more robust than we think,” says Professor Eske Willerslev, of the Centre for Geogenetics at the University of Copenhagen, who headed the research.

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Generally accepted that the trees disappeared
Willerslev and his colleagues used the latest DNA technology to gain a fresh view on a controversial issue about the origin of the Scandinavian forests.

It has long been generally accepted that all trees in Scandinavia disappeared completely during the last Ice-Age in Scandinavia, which started some 115,000 years ago.

This view states that it wasn’t until after the ice melted away some 9,000 years ago that the trees started to reappear at an impressive speed from the south and the east.

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