Episodes of aeolian sand movement on a large spit system (Skagen Odde, Denmark) and North Atlantic storminess during the Little Ice Age

Lars B. Clemmensen, Aslaug C. Glad, Kristian W. T. Hansen, Andrew S. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Late Holocene coastal dune successions in north-western Europe contain evidence of episodic aeolian sand movement in the recent past. If previous periods of increased sand movement can be dated sufficiently precisely and placed in a correct cultural and geomorphological context, they may add to our understanding of storminess variation and climate change in the North Atlantic during the later part of the Holocene. In this study, coastal cliff sections of Holocene dune sand were investigated in the north-western part of the Skagen Odde spit system in northern Denmark. Four units of aeolian sand were recognized. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating indicates that aeolian sand movement took place in four phases: around AD 1460, between AD 1730 and 1780, around AD 1870, and since about AD 1935. The first phase of sand movement occurred during cooling in the first part of the Little Ice Age. A change in the atmospheric circulation, so that both the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) were negative, apparently led to an increased number of intense cyclones causing inland sand movement and dune building. The second and third phase of aeolian sand movement during the Little Ice Age also took place in periods of increased storminess, but during these events it appears that negative NAO values were coupled with positive AMO values. The final phase of sand movement is intimately linked to the modern formation of frontal dunes which takes place during moderate storminess. These findings are important as they indicate three major periods of aeolian sand movement and storminess during the Little Ice Age.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark
Pages (from-to)17-28
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Aeolian sand movement
  • Storminess
  • Climate change
  • Little Ice Age
  • Skagen Odde


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