The European glacial landscapes from the Last Glacial Maximum - synthesis

Philip Hughes, David Palacios, Jose Maria García Ruiz, Nuria Andrés

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was a major climatic event in the Last Glacial Cycle (LGC) and in many areas was a time of significant landscape change. Glaciers were often close to their maximum extent of the LGC over the 29- to 19-ka interval. However, the evidence presented in this chapter does reveal complexity within this extended interval with some areas seeing glacier maxima early in this interval whereas others seeing glacier maxima late in this interval. Furthermore, in some locations, the LGM was not the biggest glacier event of the LGC and some places saw smaller glaciers than earlier in the LGC. In a few areas the LGM glaciers were much smaller than earlier Middle Pleistocene glaciers. Nevertheless, there is no doubting the profound impact of the LGM in terms of landscape change whether this be through glacier erosion or through periglacial conditions at what was the coldest part of the LGC. What is clear from the various contributions in this chapter is that the LGM was a complex interval characterised by different glacier behaviour across Europe. From the ice sheet sectors of the European Ice Sheet Complex to the mountain glaciers of southern Europe, glaciers in different regions were out-of-phase and exhibiting varying timings of advance and retreat. This highlights that even within the relatively narrow window of time of the LGM, the glaciers of Europe were highly sensitive to regional as well as global climate changes. In terms of landscape change, however, despite the temporal complexities, there is no doubting the uniformity of the impact on the European landscape of glaciers and associated cold-climate processes at the LGM.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Glacial Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationMaximum Extent of Glaciations
EditorsD. Palacios, P. Hughes, J.M. García-Ruiz, N. Andrés
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier BV
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780128234983
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021


  • Marine Isotope Stage 2
  • glacier erosion
  • ice sheets
  • mountain glaciers
  • Europe
  • North Atlantic


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