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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Ice Age Scotland Recreated In “Incredible” New Film

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A new 3D visualization is revealing what the Scottish city of Dundee looked like during the Ice Age of 20,000 years ago. At this time, the location of the east coast city was packed flat beneath a 0.6-mile-thick ice sheet.

A report in Science Alert explains that Glaciologist Max Van Wyk de Vries, of the University of Minnesota, U.S., and design expert Kieran Duncan of the University of Dundee in Scotland, began researching the geological history of Dundee while they were locked down in the city during the 2020 Covid-19 restrictions.

In a project that was supported by public engagement funding from the British Society for Geomorphology, the two researchers discovered evidence that not only Dundee, but the whole of Scotland and much of the North Sea and Scandinavia was covered in a deep layer of ice until it began melting around 15,000 years ago. Their new film brings the reality of this chilly-epoch of Ice Age Scotland to life.

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A 1000-meter-deep ice sheet covered Dundee during the Ice age in Scotland. (YouTube Screenshot)

A 1000-meter-deep ice sheet covered Dundee during the Ice age in Scotland. (YouTube Screenshot)

Carving Out A Whole New Scotland

The last Glacial Maximum , when the ice was deepest, occurred around 22,000 years ago. At this time much of Europe was buried beneath a one-kilometer-thick sheet of ice. At northerly latitudes, for example in Norway and Scotland, temperatures remained below 0°C all year round. This meant an ice bridge connected Britain with Scandinavia allowing woolly mammoths , giant deer and wolves to roam freely without hunters on the icy planes.

The Ice Age finally reached an end about 11,500 years ago when incalculable tonnages of glacial ice and waterflows spread as far south as the English Channel that separates Britain from the continent. These vicious boulder, mineral and tree strewn flows sanded down hills into glens, as they ripped new rivers into the ice-chilled landscapes.

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As the temperature rose, the Ice became unstable, shedding icebergs and tons of water. (YouTube Screenshot)

As the temperature rose, the Ice became unstable, shedding icebergs and tons of water. (YouTube Screenshot)

Now, the two researchers, a geologist and a designer, have calculated how famous Dundee’s geological landmarks were carved by this ice and bolder laden waterflow. The new model and film feature the famous glacial ridge of “Dundee Law,” the highest point in Dundee at 571 feet (174 meters) high, and the “Tay estuary,” the largest estuaries in eastern Scotland that ranges up to 2.5 km wide.

Locked Down In Ice Age Scotland

Mr Van Wyk de Vries said around 20,000 years ago, at the peak of the last Ice Age, Dundee and most of Scotland and the North Sea was trapped beneath a “0.6-mile-thick ice sheet.” Around 15,000 years ago the climate warmed significantly, and the resulting melt flows carved Dundee’s landmarks including Dundee Law and the Tay estuary. A report in Daily Mail attempts to make what already is a fairly simple story, simpler still. It describes the new visualization and film as “incredible” and correlates an Ice Age glacial mass at Dundee Law with “The Wall” from the HBO adaptation of the “ Game of Thrones .”

For the six of ‘us’ who didn’t watch Game of Thrones, “The Wall” is a 700 feet tall ice fortification that stretched for “100 leagues” (345 miles or 555 kilometers) representing the northern border of the Kingdom of the North, that was ruled by “wildlings.”

Mr Van Wyk de Vries told Science Alert that he had been on a field trip “helping to set up weather stations in Patagonia” and when he returned to Dundee to see his girlfriend he was forced to lock down during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is when he and his research partner began exploring Dundee and taking note of the chief geological features.

A Short Film With A Big Impression

The new visualization revealing how Dundee’s landscape looked around 20,000 years ago was built using “old papers, local data and ice models,” says Mr Van Wyk de Vries. To gain even more accuracy in their new model, the pair of researchers studied satellite images of the textures of existent glacial sheets in Greenland.

The so-called “incredible” three-minute-long visualization will be featuring in the ‘ Time & Tide: The Transformation of the Tay ‘ exhibition at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum until October 3, 2021. However, if you aren’t planning on being in Dundee anytime soon you can watch the film embedded above.

Top image: Representation of how the ice would have covered the landscape of Dundee as it would have been during last Ice Age in Scotland.       Source: YouTube Screenshot

By Ashley Cowie

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