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Monday, April 2, 2012

"The Little Ice Age"

The cooling of the Earth's biosphere after the Medieval Warm Period, sometimes called the Medieval Climate Optimum, is what we have called the Little Ice Age. This cooling period lasted to about 1800.

Some say that massive volcanic eruptions that took place between 1275 and 1300 AD led to the Little Ice Age. Where did those eruptions take place? Can you find out? Did Quilatoa in Ecuador probably have a substantial eruption about 1280. Could sulfurous eruptions along with a low level of solar radiation have led to the cooling?

When, exactly, did the cooling occur? My guess is that the cooling was notable between 1400 and 1800. NASA defines the Little Ice Age as the cold period between 1550 and 1850. I'd bet that their guess is supportable.

Can we learn something about the effects of climate change on Humans and their culture by looking at The Little Ice Age a bit more closely? What might we learn about ourselves by learning more about how we were during that relatively recent cold period, the way we were before it, and the way we are now? If you chose to begin your research on Wikipedia, where would you look? 

Might we be able to learn a great deal from the history of the periods?
Might we not divided that history into: before, during, and after the colder time?
before could be from 1300 to 1500
during could be 1600 to 1700
after could be 1800 to 2000

What data from these three periods do you think that it would be most useful to compare? Might the art of the of the times be helpful?

Would you look at European paintings? Were there reports of sunspot activity? Why were wars fought? Where and when were volcanic eruptions recorded? Migrations? What else? 

We could choose to compare slightly different periods. Before could be 900 to 1200. During might be from 1400 to 1700. After might be from 1900 until today.

The beauty is in the fact that we can explore the richness of fairly recent history. We know much more about our doings in the last couple millenia than we do of much earlier times. 

I'll start a quick survey of the history of the periods right now:
[1300 to 1500]
The Great Famine in Europe 1315 through 1317. The Norse leave Greenland in about 1400. Looks like I have not chosen my dates well. It looks like the 1300s might be right in the middle of the cooling period instead of before it. I'll adjust the periods. Maybe beginning about 1050 would be good. No, I'll try the following:
before: 800 to 1200
during: 1300 to 1700
after: 1800 to the present

I quit for today. I'll continue tomorrow.

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