The Clapperton (1997) curve, comparing Greenland ice core data with the possible glacier extent in the Scottish Highlands. During periods of prolonged cold, Ice Sheets form; shorter periods or less intense cold brings Mountain Ice Caps, Mountain Ice Fields and Corrie Glaciers.
Oxygen Isotope curve from deep ocean sediments, showing the approximate ages of the main OI stages.
The period since the last interglacial has seen many rapid and marked shifts in the climate of Scotland. Although the terrestrial stratigraphic record is still poorly understood, there is growing evidence for the existence of major ice masses during several intervals during the Late Pleistocene. The last ice sheet appears to have covered Orkney to a depth of several hundreds of metres and to have extended north and west to the shelf edge and to have been confluent with Scandinavian ice in the northern North Sea.
The main sub-divisions of the Late Pleistocene are based on the marine oxygen isotope record:
The last major period of glacial and periglacial activity on Orkney occurred during the Loch Lomond Stadial (11-10 kyr BP).