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Receding Swiss Glaciers Reveal 4000 Year Old Forests – Warmists Try To Suppress Findings

June 21, 2014

By Paul Homewood


As many sources, including HH Lamb, have pointed out, back in the Bronze Age around 2000BC, the climate in the Alps was much warmer than now.

It is therefore no surprise to find direct evidence of this from geologist Dr. Christian Schlüchter, Professor emeritus at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

Larry Bell at Newsmax has the story:


Dr. Christian Schlüchter’s discovery of 4,000-year-old chunks of wood at the leading edge of a Swiss glacier was clearly not cheered by many members of the global warming doom-and-gloom science orthodoxy.

This finding indicated that the Alps were pretty nearly glacier-free at that time, disproving accepted theories that they only began retreating after the end of the little ice age in the mid-19th century. As he concluded, the region had once been much warmer than today, with “a wild landscape and wide flowing river.”

Dr. Schlüchter’s report might have been more conveniently dismissed by the entrenched global warming establishment were it not for his distinguished reputation as a giant in the field of geology and paleoclimatology who has authored/coauthored more than 250 papers and is a professor emeritus at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

Then he made himself even more unpopular thanks to a recent interview titled “Our Society is Fundamentally Dishonest” which appeared in the Swiss publication Der Bund where he criticized the U.N.-dominated institutional climate science hierarchy for extreme tunnel vision and political contamination.

Following the ancient forest evidence discovery Schlüchter became a target of scorn. As he observes in the interview, “I wasn’t supposed to find that chunk of wood because I didn’t belong to the close-knit circle of Holocene and climate researchers. My findings thus caught many experts off guard: Now an ‘amateur’ had found something that the [more recent time-focused] Holocene and climate experts should have found.”

Other evidence exists that there is really nothing new about dramatic glacier advances and retreats. In fact the Alps were nearly glacier-free again about 2,000 years ago. Schlüchter points out that “the forest line was much higher than it is today; there were hardly any glaciers. Nowhere in the detailed travel accounts from Roman times are glaciers mentioned.”

Schlüchter criticizes his critics for focusing on a time period which is “indeed too short.” His studies and analyses of a Rhone glacier area reveal that “the rock surface had [previously] been ice-free 5,800 of the last 10,000 years."

Such changes can occur very rapidly. His research team was stunned to find trunks of huge trees near the edge of Mont Miné Glacier which had all died in just a single year. They determined that time to be 8,200 years ago based upon oxygen isotopes in the Greenland ice which showed marked cooling.

Casting serious doubt upon alarmist U.N.-IPCC projections that the Alps will be nearly glacier-free by 2100, Schlüchter poses several challenging questions: “Why did the glaciers retreat in the middle of the 19th century, although the large CO2 increase in the atmosphere came later? Why did the Earth ‘tip’ in such a short time into a warming phase? Why did glaciers again advance in the 1880s, 1920s, and 1980s? . . . Sooner or later climate science will have to answer the question why the retreat of the glacier at the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850 was so rapid.”

Although we witness ongoing IPCC attempts to blame such developments upon evil fossil-fueled CO2 emissions, that notion fails to answer these questions. Instead, Schlüchter believes that the sun is the principal long-term driver of climate change, with tectonics and volcanoes acting as significant contributors.

Regarding IPCC integrity with strong suspicion, Schlüchter recounts a meeting in England that he was “accidentally” invited to which was led by “someone of the East Anglia Climate Center who had come under fire in the wake of the Climategate e-mails.”

As he describes it: “The leader of the meeting spoke like some kind of Father. He was seated at a table in front of those gathered and he took messages. He commented on them either benevolently or dismissively.”

Schlüchter’s view of the proceeding took a final nosedive towards the end of the discussion. As he noted: “Lastly it was about tips on research funding proposals and where to submit them best. For me it was impressive to see how the leader of the meeting collected and selected information.”

As a number of other prominent climate scientists I know will attest, there’s one broadly recognized universal tip for those seeking government funding. All proposals with any real prospects for success should somehow link climate change with human activities rather than to natural causes. Even better, those human influences should intone dangerous consequences.

Schlüchter warns that the reputation of science is becoming more and more damaged as politics and money gain influence. He concludes, “For me it also gets down to the credibility of science . . . Today many natural scientists are helping hands of politicians, and are no longer scientists who occupy themselves with new knowledge and data. And that worries me.”

Yes. That should worry everyone.



 The only real surprise in this story is why the so-called “experts”, that he was up against, were so surprised by his findings. There is ample evidence from HH Lamb and others that temperatures in this part of the world were higher then than now. Apart from anything else, there is the body of Oetzi the iceman, which was discovered a few years ago in a glacier, high up in the Alps, near the Austro-Italian border, at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. Oetzi had attempted to cross the Alps about 5000 years ago.





Anyone, with the slightest knowledge of the Alps, would know that nobody these days would attempt to cross a glacier at this height with the sort of clothing and equipment available to Oetzi.

In 2008, the BBC offered a fuller explanation.


Melting alpine glaciers are revealing fascinating clues to Neolithic life in the high mountains.

And, as a conference of archaeologists and climatologists meeting in the Swiss capital Berne has been discussing, the finds are also providing key indicators to climate change.

Everyone knows the story of Oetzi the Ice Man, found in a glacier on the Austrian-Italian border in 1991. Oetzi was discovered at an altitude of over 3,000m.

He lived in about 3,300 BC, leading to speculation that the Alps may have had more human habitation than previously suspected.

Now, more dramatic findings from the 2,756m Schnidejoch glacier in Switzerland have confirmed the theory.

It all started at the end of the long hot summer of 2003, when a Swiss couple, hiking across a melting Schnidejoch, came across a piece of wood that aroused their curiosity.

They took it down with them, and gave it to canton Berne’s archaeological department, where careful examination and carbon dating revealed the piece of wood to be an arrow quiver made of birch bark, dating from about 3000 BC.

Unique findings

"Finds in the Alps are very rare anyway," explains Albert Hafner, chief archaeologist with the canton of Berne. "But this is unique; we don’t know of a quiver like this anywhere else in the world."

At first, the news of the find was kept quiet; historians feared treasure hunters on the Schnidejoch as the ice melted. But teams of archaeologists went up, and more and more artefacts were discovered.

Leather (University of Berne)

The ice has protected the leather for thousands of years

"We now have the complete bow equipment, quiver and arrows," says Mr Hafner "And we have, surprisingly, a lot of organic material like leather, parts of shoes and a trouser leg, that we wouldn’t normally find."

And the finds are not confined to 3000 BC. Some of the leather found, and a fragment of a wooden bowl, date from 4500 BC, older even than Oetzi, making them the oldest objects ever found in the Alps.

And from later periods, a Bronze Age pin has been discovered, as well as Roman coins and a fibula, and items dating from the early Middle Ages.

Key to climate change

What fascinates scientists about the age of the finds is that they correspond to times when climate specialists have already calculated the Earth was going through an especially warm period, caused by fluctuations in the orbital pattern of the Earth in relation to the Sun.

At these times, historians now speculate, the high mountain regions became accessible to humans.

The Roman coins found on the Schnidejoch are being seen as proof that the Romans used this route to cross the Alps from Italy to their territories in northern Europe. Interestingly, one of the Earth’s chillier periods coincides with the decline of the Roman empire.



As the Earth cooled and the glaciers grew again, the Schnidejoch and other passes like it would have been blocked by ice. So did fluctuations in the Earth’s climate contribute to the fall of the Roman empire?

"Well that may be stretching things a bit," laughs Martin Grosjean. "But what we do know is that the climate has fluctuated throughout history; in the past the driving force for the changes was the Earth’s orbital pattern, now the driving force is green house gas emissions."

Global patterns

For Martin Grosjean, the leather items found on the Schnidejoch, dated at over 5,000 years old, are proof, if any more were needed, that the Earth is now warming up.

"The leather is the jewel among the finds," he says. "If leather is exposed to the weather, to sun, wind and rain, it disintegrates almost immediately.

Tool reconstruction (University of Berne)

Bit by bit, the Neolithic way of life is being revealed

"The fact that we still find these 5,000-year-old pieces of leather tells us they were protected by the ice all this time, and that the glaciers have never been smaller than in the year 2003 and the years following."

Scientists and archaeologists from all over the world attended the conference in Berne to hear about the Schnidejoch findings, and present research of their own.

Patterns have begun to emerge: researchers in Canada’s Yukon region have found evidence of Neolithic farming and domesticated animals at high altitudes.

Again, they correspond with the calculations climatologists have made about the Earth’s warmer periods.

Unexpected history

In Norway, Atle Nesje has been analysing glaciers for the past 25 years. His calculations for the Norwegian icefields show a similar shrinkage and growth pattern to the alpine glaciers.

"Now these archaeological findings seem to fit quite nicely with our glacier reconstructions," he says. "This is very important in the debate about climate change in the past, the present, and also in the future."

Shoe reconstruction (BBC)

A reconstruction of the shoes these mountain people used to wear

For historians however, the Schnidejoch is unexpected evidence that early man was far more at home in the high Alps than had been previously thought.

"In 1991, we were completely surprised by Oetzi," remembers Albert Hafner. "Up to then, we had always thought the Alps were not used, that people never went there.

"Now with Schnidejoch we know they were rather keen on mountaineering. It was a big challenge for them; look at the shoes, no Goretex for them. But we know they went up regularly."




The reality is straightforward. The Alps, and regions elsewhere, were much warmer than now around 5000 years ago, and, indeed, for most of the time before that going back to the end of the Ice Age. There is absolutely no evidence at all that suggests current temperatures are, in any way, unusual.

  1. June 21, 2014 10:17 pm

    Reblogged this on the WeatherAction Blog.

  2. June 21, 2014 10:45 pm

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Glacial retreat is discussed as though present time retreat is something new. The evidence strongly suggests that it is not.

  3. June 21, 2014 11:14 pm

    Reblogged this on ScottishSceptic.

  4. Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) permalink
    June 21, 2014 11:30 pm

    Any idea what the name of the paper is? I searched his name but came up with a lot of papers and nothing recent.

  5. John F. Hultquist permalink
    June 22, 2014 12:20 am

    See the post at the link below – at the comment by Ammann.

    No Trick Zone post

    Though still no reference to a paper by Christian Schlüchter.

    • Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) permalink
      June 22, 2014 8:56 am

      Thanks John!

  6. Streetcred permalink
    June 22, 2014 1:11 am

    “[ … ] laughs Martin Grosjean. “But what we do know is that the climate has fluctuated throughout history; in the past the driving force for the changes was the Earth’s orbital pattern, now the driving force is green house gas emissions.””

    “There is absolutely no evidence at all that suggests current temperatures are, in any way, unusual” nor a consequences of increased atmospheric CO2.

    • June 23, 2014 11:23 pm

      Not so long ago in my past I was an OSHA / EPA safety officer doing US Military work and no CO2 was not a poison nor listed as toxic nor harmful unless it was able to purge out the normal air with oxygen in the numerous confined spaces where myself and crew were working . CO2 is good . Ask any plants lol . Have a nice day .

  7. June 22, 2014 4:16 am

    Reblogged this on pdx transport.

  8. June 22, 2014 6:13 am

    Another inconvenient truth, which will be minimised and suppressed just like all the other inconvenient truths.

  9. David permalink
    June 22, 2014 8:05 am

    “This finding indicated that the Alps were pretty nearly glacier-free at that time, disproving accepted theories that they only began retreating after the end of the little ice age in the mid-19th century.”

    Not sure where they got these ‘accepted theories’ from? Numerous studies, not least Marcott et al. (2013), indicate that global temperatures were around +0.2 to +0.3 deg C warmer than the 1961-1990 global average for the entire period 8,000 to 3,000 BC. They then fell steadily to around -0.4 deg C below average until around the mid 19th century. Since then there has been a sudden rise in global temperature.

    Between 8,000 and 3,000 BC, the Alpine environment and its ecosystems had around 5,000 years to adapt to temperatures that were, even by our modern measure,’above average’. It then had a further 5,000 years of gradual adaptation to much colder conditions. It’s this modern, cold-adapted Alpine environment that we have inherited. The region has so far only had around 200 years to begin to re-adapt to modern warmer conditions, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that it’s not yet the ‘wild environment with flowing rivers’ that it probably was between 5 and 10 thousand years ago.

    As far as I’m aware this is the ‘accepted theory’ of today’s paleoclimate scientists; so I don’t see how Dr. Schlüchter’s report does anything other than confirm the theory. The whole theme of the NewsMax article appears to be based on a straw man fallacy.

    • June 22, 2014 9:45 am

      The real interest is in the reaction to his findings, which Schluchter reports.

      • David permalink
        June 22, 2014 2:06 pm

        He reports them very vaguely Paul. They are referred to as “many experts” and as “his critics”; but no one is named.

        Who are these “many experts” that are criticising Dr Schlüchter for reporting on something that is already widely accepted in paleoclimate studies?

        Mainstream paleoclimate articles such as Marcott et al. (2013), agree that global average temperatures were +0.2 to +0.3 deg C warmer than the modern average for around 5,000 years between 8-3,000 BC. Also that temperatures stayed at or above the modern average until around 1,000 BC.

        We can only wonder why this same group of unnamed ‘experts’ didn’t attack Marcott et al. when, it seems, his group came to more or less the same findings as Schlüchter’s re temperatures in the early-mid Holocene.

    • June 23, 2014 11:27 pm

      David : this man of science plainly states from climate meetings he went to was the massive fraud of these supposed climate science who are only doing this fraud to garner money from communist socialist government leaders who will use said fraud to put a burden on the taxpayer and the consumers of energy . I’d suggest learning to consumer what you read .

  10. June 22, 2014 8:20 am

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Paul Homewood pulls together scattered media reports concerning the Eurpean Alps; putting the lie to claims of ‘unprecedented’ temperatures put about by the climate alarmists.

  11. Hector Pascal permalink
    June 22, 2014 10:06 am


    You cite the Marcott (2013) paper and link to an image with a mega-uptick.

    Here is an interview By Revkin of Shakun, co-author of that paper.

    Q. What do paleotemperature reconstructions show about the temperature of the last 100 years?

    A. Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th-century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions.

    So the spike at the end of the time series plot you linked to should be ignored as “not statistically robust”.

    Q. Is the rate of global temperature rise over the last 100 years faster than at any time during the past 11,300 years?

    A. Our study did not directly address this question because the paleotemperature records used in our study have a temporal resolution of ~120 years on average, which precludes us from examining variations in rates of change occurring within a century. Other factors also contribute to smoothing the proxy temperature signals contained in many of the records we used, such as organisms burrowing through deep-sea mud, and chronological uncertainties in the proxy records that tend to smooth the signals when compositing them into a globally averaged reconstruction. We showed that no temperature variability is preserved in our reconstruction at cycles shorter than 300 years,

    The Marcott “study” will not show any excursion of less than 300 years, yet they show one from about 1850. Ho hum.

    • David permalink
      June 22, 2014 2:25 pm

      Hector Pascal

      The Marcott et al. chart clearly indicates that the ‘spike’ at the end of the series is the HadCRUT4 global surface temperature record. The authors substituted the surface temperature record precisely because the paleoclimate proxy data for this period was unreliable.

      So the ‘spike’ seen is temperatures as measured by instruments, at least according to HadCRUT4. Therefore it’s not subject to the 300 year resolution difficulty.

      In any case, my point is not about the modern spike, it’s about the simple fact that Marcott et al., among several other studies, *agrees* with Dr. Schlüchter’s finding that global temperatures 8-3,000 BC were warmer than the modern average.

      So who are these “many experts” that are criticising Schlüchter for agreeing with the mainstream paleoclimate community?

      • June 22, 2014 6:16 pm


        The real issue around the 300yr resolution is that we have no way of knowing whether the spike in temps in the last 50 yrs or so is “unprecedented”.

  12. Philip Mulholland permalink
    June 22, 2014 10:52 am

    The original article in Der Bund is here (Google Translate):-
    Our society is fundamentally dishonest

  13. NikFromNYC permalink
    June 22, 2014 1:02 pm

    But the latest celebrated hockey stick says today’s warming really is utterly new, well, as long as you don’t dare actually have a look at the input data:

    • David permalink
      June 22, 2014 2:16 pm


      The Mann et al. ‘hockey stick’ graphs only cover back as far as 2,000 years.

      There is little or no dispute in mainstream paleoclimate studies that the period 8 to 5 thousand BC was consistently warmer than the modern average.

      That’s why it’s had to understand why Dr Schlüchter appears to have come in for such ‘expert’ criticism, from persons unnamed. His work supports what is generally accepted by mainstream paleoclimate science today.

  14. June 22, 2014 1:21 pm

    When I was a kid I was taught that changing climate was at least partly responsible for the Huns moving into Europe and pushing everybody into the Roman Empire. Mind you that was changing climate not Climate Change.

  15. Doug Proctor permalink
    June 22, 2014 5:30 pm

    At the leading edge of the (remnant of) the Saskatachewan Glacier in Alberta, Canada, there are 3,000 year-old tree trunks exposed as the front of (stagnant) ice melts. Other studies show that 3,000 years ago the tree line was 110 m higher (at Opabin Lake, also in Alberta). There are clearly global events of that period of time that were warmer than today.

    The observations are not a problem. The implications are.

    The difficulty people have with accepting and incorporating the implications that are disturbing to their world-view must be genetically based. The idea that we are all free thinkers and open to reason is clearly false; we are driven to know what we must do and then do something else instead. It is a paradox that is an essence of being human.

    CAGW has come and will go. The world will not burn up, and even if CO2 increases are later found to be mostly beneficial and not harmful, there will be no atonement. People seem more comfortable with a fiction that gives them the feeling of power – that harmful weather or planetary shifts can be fixed by presidential dicta, for example – than “maning-up” to moving in a sea of forces that one must adjust to rather than barter with.

    We want a Father Who Knows Best, and will go along with the notion even when he clearly doesn’t know best (the whole basis of the humour behind the TV series!). If we had a new Father stand up who said CO2 is the best thing for the world, and rolled out a Hollywood story of Eden rising from the polluted landscape of the Industrial Revolution, a morality play in which unintended consequences – ‘everything happens for a reason’ – brought more life, prosperity and peace to the World, the public (and politicians, of course) would clamour for a national target for coal-driven coal power of “80 by 20”, or 80% coal-energy by 2020. We want our happy thoughts and will avoid thinking deeply if at all possible.

    City-dwellers are disconnected from the natural environment. Their world doesn’t change as central heating, air conditioning and climate-controlled cars, buses and trains keep things the same. Rural dwellers of 20 think any change from when they were 10 is both unprecedented and bad. Those in their 50s remember both the good and the bad over the years and that, yes, it is warmer in a large urban environment and the snow melts faster, and if your home is on a flat bit of ground near a river, you will, at some time, learn why that flat bit of ground is called a “floodplain”.

    I’m not surprised that the news of prior glacial retreats is received so poorly. The implications of non-CO2 temperature rises and falls does not mean man-made CO2 can’t be a problem. But the implications are that the current temperature rise might be only minimally CO2 related, that, therefore, we can’t do anything about it through CO2 “control”, and that we are being fed a line about upcoming catastrophies that regulation and force can avoid, by dear old Dad. As a species we resist such fundamental challenges to how we view ourselves and our world; it feels better to be sure of something false than to accept uncertainty as how things are.

  16. June 22, 2014 8:03 pm

    After some 10,000 years our Happy Holocene Epoch is fading.

    The last millennium 1000-2000 AD was the coldest of the Holocene yet. This can be seen in the GISP and other ice core data. Our most recent millennium was almost 3°C less than at the peak of the Holocene “climate optimum”.

    Looking at more recent records, the UKMO Central England Temperature record has already lost almost 1°C this century, i.e. since the year 2000.

    With diminished solar output in cycle 24 and as presaged for cycle 25, significant cooling is certainly as likely or rather more likely outcome than Catastrophic Man-made warming for the foreseeable future.

    But even according to IPCC published data this level of warming could never be reached by adding man-made CO2 to the atmosphere.The IPCC confirms that the warming effectiveness of CO2 is diminishing with increasing concentration. So between the current 400ppmv and 1000ppmv there remains only ~13% of the effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

    Richard Tol has assessed that up to +2°C is universally beneficial.

    There are things with the climate we really should be afraid of and +2 °C warming is not one of them.

    Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming advocates fail to explain how reduction of man-made atmospheric CO2 can ever help to control Climate Change towards a cooling world.

    Nonetheless they continue to press decarbonisation policies as the solution to “Climate Change”.

    In reality any added atmospheric CO2 is just essential and increasingly useful food for plants. If the world warms, it could well survive having additional areas available for viable, well fertilised, agriculture.

    But its getting colder !!!


    • June 23, 2014 8:27 am

      We are on the edge of having a spacegoing civilisation. Such a civilisation can easily unroll square miles of tinfoil in orbit as either mirrors or sunshades according to need. We can control our climate any time we are allowed to. Only worry is that the ecofascists might continue to be able to prevent it

      • June 23, 2014 11:37 pm

        we had better pray it stays warm as long ago the sun hit it’s peak for high temperature and though we will see spurts of warming cycles they will lessen in long term time as the sun runs out of fuels to eventually collapse within it’s remnants . That’s life friends .

  17. June 23, 2014 10:44 am

    A quick reading of Edward Whymper’s 1860’s book “Scrambles amongst the Alps”, tells us all we needed to know anyway. Repeatedly he and his guides discuss the rate at which alpine glaciers had already been receding for centuries. Perhaps the earliest known reference to catastrophic man-made global overheating – presumably from peat burning or some such!

  18. June 24, 2014 2:56 pm

    I have never seen competent paleo-economic commentary on the ice man. The bronze ax he possessed had as well been gold: it was precious and stolen. In the process of stealing it he was wounded, but managed to climb to the summit, where he died of his injuries.

    • June 24, 2014 3:56 pm

      That could be determined by whether it had been used or was just for show. If used the metal will have score marks and some blunting.

      • June 24, 2014 4:26 pm

        The ax head was made of bronze, not gold. Bronze was the hardest alloy at the time. Stone axes have been found with artificial casting ridges, obviously copied after the prized metal specimens. Maybe they imagined the ridges added strength to the ax. Did the thief intend to sell the ax, or did he just want to be a big shot with a bronze ax? I think the latter: it is not likely that any of his village possessed anything of comparable value. –AGF


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