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A 1500-year record of North Atlantic storm flooding from lacustrine sediments, Shetland Islands (UK)
Hess, K.; Engel, M.; Patel, T.; Vakhrameeva, P.; Koutsodendris, A.; Klemt, E.; Hansteen, T.H.; Kempf, P.; Dawson, S.; Schön, I.; Heyvaert, V.M.A. (2024). A 1500-year record of North Atlantic storm flooding from lacustrine sediments, Shetland Islands (UK). J. Quaternary Sci. 39(1): 37-53.
In: Journal of Quaternary Science. John Wiley & Sons: Harlow, Essex. ISSN 0267-8179; e-ISSN 1099-1417, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Little Ice Age; North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO); North Sea; sand overwash; storm frequency

Authors  Top 
  • Hess, K.
  • Engel, M., more
  • Patel, T., more
  • Vakhrameeva, P.
  • Koutsodendris, A.
  • Klemt, E.
  • Hansteen, T.H.
  • Kempf, P., more
  • Dawson, S.
  • Schön, I., more
  • Heyvaert, V.M.A., more


    Severe storm flooding poses a major hazard to the coasts of north-western Europe. However, the long-term recurrence patterns of extreme coastal flooding and their governing factors are poorly understood. Therefore, high-resolution sedimentary records of past North Atlantic storm flooding are required. This multi-proxy study reconstructs storm-induced overwash processes from coastal lake sediments on the Shetland Islands using grain-size and geochemical data, and the re-analysis of historical data. The chronostratigraphy is based on Bayesian age–depth modelling using accelerator mass spectrometry 14C and 137Cs data. A high XRF-based Si/Ti ratio and the unimodal grain-size distribution link the sand layers to the beach and thus storm-induced overwash events. Periods with more frequent storm flooding occurred 980–1050, 1150–1300, 1450–1550, 1820–1900 and 1950–2000 ce, which is largely consistent with a positive North Atlantic Oscillation mode. The Little Ice Age (1400–1850 ce) shows a gap of major sand layers suggesting a southward shift of storm tracks and a seasonal variance with more storm floods in spring and autumn. Warmer phases shifted winter storm tracks towards the north-east Atlantic, indicating a possible trend for future storm-track changes and increased storm flooding in the northern North Sea region.

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