Does our current weather trend properly reflect a Heinrich Event? It seems like the drastic weather swings are what I would expect but I realize that is not definitive. I don't see the term bandied about as I would expect. Are there other criteria missing?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you add references for those who do not know what a Heinrich Event is? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


Definitely not.

A Heinrich event requires massive ice sheets to grow and then collapse in the Northern hemisphere. The large outflow of icebergs that would result form such collapse would deliver fresh water and debris to the North Atlantic, which is what constitutes a Heinrich event. These events are detected by existence of deposits of ice rafted debris and dropstones in the sea floor.

Image of rock from Namibia containing a penny-sized dropstone

Example of a dropstone carried by an iceberg, dropped on the sea floor, and then embedded in sea floor sediments (image taken from snowballearth.com)

Current ice masses in the Northern hemisphere are tiny compared with those that generated all recorded Heinrich events.

Something similar could happen now further south if East Antarctica collapses. However the circulation pattern in the Antarctic ocean limit significantly the distance that icebergs can travel.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi @DavidHammen, why did you change dropstone by dripstone in the photo caption? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ I erroneously changed doropstone (obviously a typo) to dripstone. It should have been dropstone. DYAC apparently "corrected" my change to dripstone. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidHammen OK, I see it now. I had not seen my typo in the original version. Thanks for spotting and correcting that. Cheers! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, too, for catching my miscorrection. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 19:21

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