Cryospheric Sciences

Image of the Week — Last Glacial Maximum in Europe

Image of the Week — Last Glacial Maximum in Europe

During the last ice age*, ~70,000 to 20,000 years ago, the climate was much colder in Europe.

As a result, the northern part of Europe was fully covered by the Fennoscandian (a.k.a the Scandinavian ) ice sheet, which extended up to the British Isles and some parts of Poland and Germany. In central Europe, the Alps were also almost fully glaciated.

The storage of all this ice on the continent lowered the sea level (seedark green), which substantially reduced the extent of the North Sea.

*This period is referred to as the Weichselian glaciation and the Würm glaciation in Northern Europe and the Alps, respectively.


More information

A more complete and accurate dataset (including GIS maps) of Europe during the last glacial maximum is freely available :

Becker, D., Verheul, J., Zickel, M., Willmes, C. (2015): LGM paleoenvironment of Europe – Map. CRC806-Database, DOI:



Sophie Berger is a postdoc at the Alfred Wegener Institut, Germany. She is using various remote sensing data and techniques to investigate the dynamics and stability of the ice shelves in Dronning Maud Land (East Antarctica). She completed her PhD at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. She tweets as @SoBrgr.


  1. This might be of interest here. We published a LGM Europe GIS Dataset for free reuse (CC-BY): Becker, D., Verheul, J., Zickel, M., Willmes, C. (2015): LGM paleoenvironment of Europe – Map. CRC806-Database, DOI:

    Happy to get Feedback, on what could be improoved.

  2. I am a firm believer in the fact that the Mediterranean was dry during the last Ice age possibly as recently as 30,000 yo. This is backed up by the cart tracks found on Malta Sicily Spain and Italy and to some extent on the straights of Gibraltar being closed until the raising of the Atlantic forced the breakthrough which is also scientifically been proven. If the Ice cap extended completely into the Black sea up into the north pole it would have been a lot more Ice (water) to melt when the thaw came. This also confirms the great flood which is in many of the old folk laws and scriptures.
    Yet i see very few mentions of this in the Weichselian glaciation and the Würm glaciation possibly due to the concentration on the Ice and Glacial side of Europe but this does make for a very interesting subject for someone with the overall knowledge of the subject.
    Does anyone have similar views on the matter which i could follow?
    Fondest regards Robby Larkan

    • The depth of the Mediterranean is over 5000 metres in places, it’s not possible that it was dry, however its only 90m – 200 m between Malta and Sicily- it’s possible that these were connected (or nearly connected). Estimates are that sea levels were around 120 metres lower during the last glacial period. The straight of Gibraltar is 300m – 900m deep. It’s extremely unlikely that this was dry.

  3. Having the Baltic frozen where did all the rivers running north that now discharge there flow?

  4. The photo you post of EU under Icea ge is misleading and wrong.. It shows fx Denmark but Denmark as it looks today? if so much melted ice melted and politicans/scientist keep saying water is rising?


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