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Sunday, September 23, 2012

"The Norse in Greenland and late Holocene sea-level change," by N. Mikkelsen, A. Kuijpers & J. Arneborg, Polar Record; doi: 10.1017/S0032247407006948

Polar Record, 44(1) (January 2008) 4550; doi: 10.1017/S0032247407006948 

The Norse in Greenland and late Holocene sea-level change 

Naja Mikkelsen and Antoon Kuijpers (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmarkand Jette Arneborg (Greenland Research Centre at the National Museum of Denmark, Fredriksholms Kanal 12, 1220 Copenhagen, Denmark)

Norse immigrants from Europe settled in southern Greenland in around AD 985 and managed to create a farming community during the Medieval Warm Period. The Norse vanished after approximately 500 years of existence in Greenland leaving no documentary evidence concerning why their culture foundered. The flooding of fertile grassland caused by late Holocene sea-level changes may be one of the factors that affected the Norse community. Holocene sea-level changes in Greenland are closely connected with the isostatic response of the Earth's crust to the behaviour of the Greenlandic ice sheet. An early Holocene regressive phase in south and west Greenland was reversed during the middle Holocene, and evidence is found for transgression and drowning of early-middle Holocene coast lines. This drowning started between 8 and 7 ka BP in southern Greenland and continued during the Norse era to the present. An average late Holocene sea level rise in the order of 2–3 m/1,000 years may be one of the factors that negatively affected the life of the Norse Greenlanders, and combined with other both socio-economic and environmental problems, such as increasing wind and sea ice expansion at the transition to the Little Ice Age, may eventually have led to the end of the Norse culture in Greenland.

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