Mountain glacier evolution in the Iberian Peninsula during the Younger Dryas

J. M. García-Ruiz, D. Palacios, P. González-Sampériz, N. de Andrés, A. Moreno, B. Valero-Garcés, A. Gómez-Villar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


We review the evolution of glaciers in the Iberian Mountains during the Younger Dryas (12.9-11.7 ka, following the chronology of Greenland Stadial 1 - GS1) and compare with available environmental and climate data to investigate glacier dynamics during cold stadial episodes. The best examples of Younger Dryas moraines are found in the Central Pyrenees, involving short ice tongues up to 4 km in length in the highest massifs (above 3000 m a.s.l.) of the southern versant. Small cirque glaciers and rock glaciers formed during the YD occurred in other Pyrenean massifs, in the Cantabrian Range and in the Gredos and Guadarrama sierras (Central Range), as indicated by several rocky, polished thresholds that were ice-free at the beginning of the Holocene. Although some former rock glaciers were re-activated during the Younger Dryas, glacial activity was limited in the southernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula (Sierra Nevada).Most Iberian records show vegetation changes during the YD characterized by a forest decline and an expansion of shrubs (mainly Juniperus) and steppe herbs, although the vegetation response was not homogeneous because of variable resilience among ecosystems. Available records also document a variable lake response in terms of hydrology and productivity, with a decrease in sedimentation rates and organic productivity in most high altitude lakes and increases in salinity and relatively lower lake levels at lower altitudes. The impact of the Younger Dryas on the coastal environment was almost negligible, but it was responsible for a brief cessation in sea level rise. High-resolution analyses of new speleothem records have documented a double structure for the YD with an earlier drier phase followed by a relatively more humid period.The review of geomorphological evidence demonstrates a strong latitudinal control of glacial activity during the YD, with more intense development in the northern than in the southern regions. The increase in humidity during the second phase of the YD in southern latitudes could have been a decisive factor for glacier advance in the northern Iberian mountains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-30
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was supported by the following projects: MAGRAMA 844/2013 (Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Environment), INDICA ( CGL2011-27753-C02-01 ), OPERA ( CTM2013-48639-C2-2-RMEC ), CRYOCRISIS ( CGL2012-35858 ) and DINAMO2 ( CGL2012-33063 ) (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness). The authors acknowledge Dr Jesús Ruiz-Fernández and an anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Deglaciation
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Moraines
  • Rock glaciers
  • Younger Dryas

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • ESP


Dive into the research topics of 'Mountain glacier evolution in the Iberian Peninsula during the Younger Dryas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this