The evolution of Holocene coastal dunefields, Jutland, Denmark: A record of climate change over the past 5000 years

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Coastal dunefields have developed on the west coast of Jutland in Denmark over the past 5000 years. The dunefields are situated in a temperate climate zone with frequent high energy wind events. Dunefield development was characterized by repeated periods of transgressive dune formation punctuated by periods of dune stabilization and soil formation. The chronology of dunefield evolution is based on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating of peaty palaeosols (24 samples) and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL dating of aeolian sand deposits (19 samples). These dates indicate that the completeness of the stratigraphic record varies considerably, but that the timing of aeolian activity events was identical in the dunefields examined here. Initiation of aeolian activity occurred around 2200 BC, 800 BC, AD 100, AD 1050-1200, and between AD 1550 and 1650. Proxy-climate data from bogs in southwestern Sweden suggest that these periods of dunefield activity were initiated during wet/cool summers. Most likely these climatic situations were associated with a more frequent passage of cyclones across Denmark in the summer seasons (increased storminess) causing aeolian sand movement and dune formation. The continued removal of vegetation in Jutland between 4000 BC and AD 1850 allowed the aeolian sand, when first activated, to move more and more easily across the coastal plains; the final phase of aeolian sand movement between AD 1550-1650 and 1900 had catastrophic implications for many coastal inhabitants in the region. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Lars B. Clemmensen
  • Andrew Murray
  • Jan Heinemeier
  • Rixt de Jong
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology


  • Denmark, Holocene, Coastal dunefield, Storminess variation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-313
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch