Conifers in the far north that survived the Ice Age

3 Mar 2012

This story is at and begins by saying that it has been assumed that the last Ice Age denuded the Scandinvian landscape of trees until the milder weather of the Holocene kicked in and trees seeded themselves back into the region from somewhere in the south. A paper in Science says this might not actually be true and there were ice free pockets or refuge areas where spruce and pine trees survived - to reseed the areas covered by the ice sheet. One of these refuges is thought perhaps to be an island off NW Norway, and another is thought perhaps to be exposed ridges very high up, above the ice (and a similar situation is known from Greenland, but without the trees). Now, one can see that ocean currents may have allowed conifers to survive in favoured coastal sites until one realises there was supposed to be an ice sheet covering the North Atlantic between Canada and Scandinavia - so how can this have been? Now, the assumption basic to the Ice Age theory is that the ice sheet covered an area much larger than Scandinavia, extending all the way into Siberia - but is this really true? It may emerge that eastern Scandinavia was not as cold as it is assumed to have been and conifers may have survived in areas much closer to the heartland - but this is not within the remit of the paper. Pole shift is not on the radar. In addition, as the study focuses on the DNA of the conifers, some of which could not have migrated from the south, we might wonder what the climate in Scandinavia was like in the era preceding the Late Glacial Maximum (roughly 30,000 to 16,000 years ago).