Transylvania Cave Offers a View Into Europe’s Past Climate

Romania’s Scarisoara Ice Cave holds the world’s oldest cave glacier, built up by water dripping into the cavern over thousands of years. The region’s weather is shaped by the currents of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and the chemistry of the ice can reveal when each of those systems played the dominant role. And a shift toward the warmer Mediterranean weather may have given late Stone Age people a toehold in what had been an inhospitable land.

Researchers took a core sample of the ice from the cave, giving scientists their first records of winter temperatures in the region. Previous reconstructions were drawn from markers of plant growth like tree rings, which reflected summer conditions, said Aurel Persoiu, a paleoclimatologist at Romania’s Emil Racovita Institute of Speleology.


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