It would seem that there are striking chronological parallels between significant variations of climate and major historical epochs, such as the Migration Period and the heyday of the Middle Ages.
This is the conclusion reached following a study undertaken by researchers from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and the USA, in which they were able to reconstruct the summer climate in Europe over the last 2,500 years from the information provided by annual tree rings. For example, the summers at the times when both the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages were at their zenith were relatively humid and warm. Professor Dr Jan Esper of the Institute of Geography at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Germany was involved in this interdisciplinary study, the results of which were recently published in the leading specialist journal "Science".
The team, consisting of climatologists and archeologists, managed for the first time to put together a complete history of rainfall and temperature over the past two and a half millennia in Central Europe. In order to do this, they analyzed the annual growth rings of some 9,000 samples of subfossil, archeological-historical and living wood originating from Germany, France, Italy, and Austria. The width of these tree rings was measured using dendrochronological techniques. The results were compared with weather data compiled by Central European meteorological stations in order to collate the findings with actual information on precipitation and temperature variations.
This enabled the scientists to consider major historical events and epochs in the context of the fluctuations of the European summer climate in the period from the late Iron Age 2,500 years ago right up to the 21st century. "During the Roman era, the climate was predominantly humid and warm, and also relatively stable," explains the first author of the publication, Ulf Büntgen of Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL) in Zurich. The decline of the Western Roman Empire coincided with a period after 250 AD in which it became much colder and climatically changeable. This phase of more marked climatic variation persisted for 300 years, accompanying the age of Migration and the associated socio-economic destabilization. The cultural revival of the early Middle Ages occurred as both temperatures and rainfall began to increase with the dawn of the 7th century. It is also possible that climatic factors may have contributed towards the spread and virulence of the Black Death after 1347. In addition, the new findings suggest that a cold period during the Thirty Years' War in the first half of the 17th century could have exacerbated the contemporary widespread famines.
The publication impressively compares the climate of the 20th century and the changes (partly) attributable to human activity with the natural fluctuations of the past 2,500 years. The summers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries appear to be have been unusually warm when considered against the background of natural temperature variation. On the other hand, there were also periods of very heavy precipitation in the past that, in terms of quantity of rainfall and duration, were more extreme than anything we are witnessing today.
However, the team of authors explicitly draws attention to the complexity of the relationship between climatic change and historical events, and warns of the dangers of drawing overly simplistic conclusions with regard to cause and effect.
Petra Giegerich | idw
NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies
20.10.2017 | Naval Research Laboratory
Integrated lab-on-a-chip uses smartphone to quickly detect multiple pathogens
19.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research