Abrupt Climate Change Drowns Land in North Sea

An English friend, Oliver Butcher, alerts me to a fascinating/alarming story that came out of the University of Birmingham in the UK last month. Turns out that about 8,000 years ago, global warming induced sea levels to rise, swallowing up a prehistoric culture that lived on land that is today beneath the North Sea.

Research Vince Gaffney, using new seismographic techniques, has mapped that vast area. He told the BBC that it was like finding another country. He also said the discovery foreshadows the "scale of impact" we face with global warming, because homelands could disappear quickly, he said:

At times this change would have been insidious and slow – but at times, it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very traumatic for these people. It would be a mistake to think that these people were unsophisticated or without culture… they would have had names for the rivers and hills and spiritual associations – it would have been a catastrophic loss.

In 10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were living on the land in the middle of the North Sea. By 6,000 BC, Britain was an island. The area we have mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years.

For more, see the story in the BBC. Here’s a map of what this land looked like. Kinda different…


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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