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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Bickerdike, H.L., O'Cofaigh, C., Evans, D.J.A & Stokes, C.R. Glacial landsystems, retreat dynamics and controls on Loch Lomond Stadial (Younger Dryas) glaciation in Britain. Boreas. 2018;47:202-224.

Author(s) from Durham


Glacial geomorphology relating to the Loch Lomond Stadial (Younger Dryas) in Britain is used to construct five glacial landsystem models. These landsystems lie on a continuum of increasing ice thickness and decreasing topographic control and typify the principal styles of glaciation during the stadial. The landsystems comprise: the cirque/niche glacier landsystem, the alpine icefield landsystem, the lowland piedmont lobe landsystem, the plateau icefield landsystem and the icecap landsystem. Geomorphological features representing the icecap landsystem are present only at the centre of the West Highland Glacier Complex, which was flanked primarily by satellite alpine and plateau icefields. The cirque/niche glacier landsystem was present predominantly in areas that experienced conditions only marginally favourable for glacier development at peripheral sites. Three styles of glacier retreat are recorded by the geomorphology: active, two-phase and uninterrupted retreat. Of these, active retreat appears to be most widespread within the Loch Lomond Stadial limits. These retreat styles reflect a combination of climatic and topographic conditions, coupled with local factors influencing the preservation of landforms from which retreat dynamics can be inferred. Likewise, the distribution of landsystems was influenced by an interplay between topography and climate, with glacier formation being facilitated in locations where topographical conditions aided in the accumulation of snow. The pattern also supports the existence of previously recognized northward and eastward precipitation gradients across Britain during the stadial.

Department of Geography