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The Little Ice Agehistory middle ages - Essay Example

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The Little Ice Agehistory middle ages

These dramatic glacial advances often had important realistic consequences for nearby human populations. In the Chamonix valley which is quite close to Mont Blanc, France, numerous farms and villages were lost to the advancing front of a nearby mountain glacier. (Mann, ) The damage was so menacing that the commoners sought the help of the Bishop of Geneva to perform an exorcism of the dark forces which is presumed to be the ones responsible for such weather disturbance. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries such societal threats were common, since many glaciers extended well beyond their previous historical limits. Colder conditions combined with altered patterns of atmospheric movement, appear to be tied to the prevalent crop failures in the more northern areas of Europe during that time. During the 17th to 19th centuries, there are prevalent accounts of famine, disease, and increased child mortality in Europe which are partly related to the extreme colder temperatures and distorted weather conditions. Undoubtedly in the European society, not all effects of the climate changes were harmful. When the Thames River in London froze, it was celebrated with a winter carnival. Furthermore, the colder climate appears to serve as an inspiration for some writers during that time. Charles Dickens' idea of the old-fashioned white Christmas was a concept that bloomed from the icy winters and frequent cold weather.

The Little Ice Age may have been more significant in terms of increased variability of the climate, rather than changes in the average climate itself. Based from Michael E Mann's write up on Little Ice Age, it is said that the most dramatic climate extremes were less associated with prolonged multiyear periods of cold than with year to year temperature changes, or even particularly prominent individual cold spells, and these events were often quite specific to particular seasons. In Switzerland, for instance, the first particularly cold winters appear to have begun in the 1550s, with cold springs beginning around 1568: the year 1573 had the first unusually cold summer (Pfister, 1995). The increased unpredictability of the climate truly led to extreme changes between unusually cold winters and relatively warm summers. A harsh winter followed the hot summer that precipitated the Great Fire of London in the year 1666. This also weather alteration further added to the restlessness of peasants who plagued the Bastille in Paris during the summer of 1789.

The demise of the Norse settlements in Greenland that had been established during the early centuries of the second millennium has constantly been blamed from the cooling of the Little Ice Age. When the sea ice extended in the North Atlantic it certainly created problems for fishermen in Iceland and Scandinavia especially the Norse settlements in Iceland and Greenland. During the 14th century, the Norse settlements relied on trade with the mainland Europe but because of the increased winter some trade routes between Scandinavia and Greenland closed. With their food base affected since they are also unable to hunt sea mammals in the winter, Norse fortunes also declined rapidly. Malnutrition and premature deaths plagued ...Show more

Summary

Between 1150 and 1460 Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate. The term Little Ice Age was originally dubbed by F Matthes in 1939 to depict the climatic intervals that range in the span of 4000 years. Soon, this term solely described the widespread current period of mountain glacier expansion and is predictably defined as the 16th to mid 19th century period during which European climate was most strongly affected…
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