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GEOG 205 (26)

February 25th

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McGill University
GEOG 205
Gail Chmura

February 25 , 2013: Vulnerability of Past Societies to Climate Change and Legacies of the “Medieval Warm Period & “Little Ice Age”  still debate towards timing, cause & existence of Medieval Warm Period & Little Ice Age  archaeological evidence & historical records provide indications of past climate  aren’t stopped by lack of meteorological instruments, can use records of crop harvests & length of growing season  tax records also provide data th th  12 & 13 centuries = Medieval Warm Period / Little Optimum o vineyards in Britain extended 2-5 degrees N & 100-300 m further up hills o scientists assumed temperature 1-2C higher than today o same say it dates back to 9 century o warmer temperatures = sea ice didn’t extend as far south & harbours of North Atlantic were ice free more often or for longer periods o conditions facilitated Norse/Viking exploration & settlements in northern lands (Iceland, Greenland) o study ice cores & tree rings to find annual records of past climates  critical to study of Medieval Warm Period o so it was no warmer than last half of 20 century but still warmer than Little Ice Age o year could have colder winters & hotter summer but yearly average temperature could remain the same  average annual temperature records might not reflect climate change o maybe Medieval warm period limited to certain regions because process causing climate change spatially restricted OR sensitivity of regions varied o if no Medieval Warm Period, why did Viking exploration & settlement expand west?  resisting pressure to relinquish powers in Norway & losing too many battles in Europe to continue exploitation to the south  the Little Ice Age o colder winters & summer + increased storminess following Medieval Warm Period o crops important  crop failure due to weather cause increases in prices, malnutrition, infant mortality & epidemics o in some areas, caused trigger for witch hunts (people wanted someone to blame) o cooling thought to be cause of advances of mountain glaciers so often referred to as neoglaciation o requests for tax relief due to disaster damages increased; vineyards in Britain abandoned o began between 14 -16 centuries & lasted until 18 -19 centuries o Viking settlements in Greenland abandoned  local Inuit’s adapted & survived o limit of sea ice extended further south  restricted communication & dishing o no remains of last settlers & no records of departure or burial  perhaps pirates kidnapped?  causes of Medieval W
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