A 1500‐year record of North Atlantic storm flooding from lacustrine sediments, Shetland Islands (UK)

Katharina Hess (Lead / Corresponding author), Max Engel, Tasnim Patel, Polina Vakhrameeva, Andreas Koutsodendris, Eckehard Klemt, Thor H. Hansteen, Philipp Kempf, Sue Dawson, Isa Schön, Vanessa M. A. Heyvaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Early online date21 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Sept 2023


  • Little Ice Age
  • North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
  • North Sea
  • sand overwash
  • storm frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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