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Breakthrough research has revealed the British Isles were repeatedly submerged under an ice sheet extending to the centre of the North Sea over a million years earlier than previously thought.
A team led by scientists from The University of Manchester and University of Aberdeen analysed sediment cores and seismic data from deep beneath the North Sea, and discovered that extensive ice sheets repeatedly covered much of the UK and Ireland from 2.5 million years ago.
Time - Sheet - Scandinavia - Back - North
At the same time, an even larger ice sheet covered much of Scandinavia. Back then the North Sea, was narrower and deeper than it is today, like a large 'fjord'. Periodically, the ice sheets from the British Isles and Scandinavia advanced into water depths of around 250 m and generated icebergs nearly 300 m high.
By 1.9 million years ago the two ice sheets repeatedly merged in the centre of the North Sea, filling the 'fjord', as they advanced and retreated in response to climate changes controlled by the Earth's orbit.
Consensus - Glaciation - Scale - North - Sea
Up to now, the scientific consensus has been that glaciation on this scale first occurred in the North Sea about 1.1 million years ago.
However, the new research, which has been published in the journal Science Advances, shows it first happened 1.4 million years earlier. This marks a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the extent of past glaciation in North West Europe.
Study - Geoscientists - Universities - Aberdeen - Manchester
The study was carried out by geoscientists from the universities of Aberdeen, Manchester, Sheffield and Queen's University Belfast, Apache North Sea Ltd., RPS Ichron, Mærsk...
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