Claim: The Temperature Spike Just Prior to the Little Ice Age can Teach Us about Modern Global Warming

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Patric Seifert, a tropospheric researcher at the Leibniz Institute in Germany, a large scale temperature spike occurred just before the onset of the Little Ice Age. Seifert does not think global temperatures are about to crash, but he thinks conditions in Europe are similar enough to the 14th century that historical reconstructions of this medieval heatwave, the Dantean Anomaly, can help us understand what we will face as the world continues to warm.

Extreme 14th Century Droughts May Provide Insight Into Our Climate Change Crisis 

CARLY CASSELLA
9 JANUARY 2021 

Scientists are studying a major, once-in-a-century drought from Medieval Europe to better understand how extreme weather events indicate rapid climate changes.

In the years leading up to the Little Ice Age, between 1302 and 1307, many regions on the European continent were facing exceptional heat and drought, according to historical records and data collected from tree rings and sediment cores.

These extreme natural events, while not driven by human emissions, hold similar characteristics to recent weather anomalies, and they could help us better predict the course of modern-day climate change.

“Even if it was a phase of cooling in the Middle Ages and we are now living in a phase of [hu]man-made warming, there could be parallels,” says Patric Seifert, a tropospheric researcher at the Leibniz Institute in Germany.

“The transitional period between two climate phases could be characterized by smaller temperature differences between the latitudes and cause longer-lasting large-scale weather patterns, which could explain an increase in extreme events.

Even the Middle East reported severe droughts during this time.

“Water levels in the Nile, for example, were exceptionally low,” says Thomas Labbé, also from the Leipzig Institute.

“We therefore think that the 1304-06 drought was not only a regional phenomenon, but probably had transcontinental dimensions.”

The study was published in Climate of the Past. 

Read more: https://www.sciencealert.com/extreme-14th-century-drought-holds-similar-patterns-to-modern-day-climate-change

The abstract of the study;

A prequel to the Dantean Anomaly: the precipitation seesaw and droughts of 1302 to 1307 in Europe

Martin Bauch1, Thomas Labbé1,3, Annabell Engel1, and Patric Seifert2

  • 1Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Leipzig, Germany
  • 3Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Dijon, USR 3516 CNRS, Dijon, France

Correspondence: Martin Bauch (martin.bauch@uni-leipzig.de) – Received: 03 Mar 2020  – Discussion started: 20 May 2020 – Revised: 02 Oct 2020 – Accepted: 05 Oct 2020 – Published: 25 Nov 2020

The cold/wet anomaly of the 1310s (“Dantean Anomaly”) has attracted a lot of attention from scholars, as it is commonly interpreted as a signal of the transition between the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). The huge variability that can be observed during this decade, like the high interannual variability observed in the 1340s, has been highlighted as a side effect of this rapid climatic transition. In this paper, we demonstrate that a multi-seasonal drought of almost 2 years occurred in the Mediterranean between 1302 and 1304, followed by a series of hot, dry summers north of the Alps from 1304 to 1306. We suggest that this outstanding dry anomaly, unique in the 13th and 14th centuries, together with cold anomalies of the 1310s and the 1340s, is part of the climatic shift from the MCA to the LIA. Our reconstruction of the predominant weather patterns of the first decade of the 14th century – based on both documentary and proxy data – identifies multiple European precipitation seesaw events between 1302 and 1307, with similarities to the seesaw conditions which prevailed over continental Europe in 2018. It can be debated to what extent the 1302–1307 period can be compared to what is currently discussed regarding the influence of the phenomenon of Arctic amplification on the increasing frequency of persistent stable weather patterns that have occurred since the late 1980s. Additionally, this paper deals with socioeconomic and cultural responses to drought risks in the Middle Ages as outlined in contemporary sources and provides evidence that there is a significant correlation between pronounced dry seasons and fires that devastated cities.

Read more: https://cp.copernicus.org/articles/16/2343/2020/

I must say I’m surprised by this claim that a geographically large scale hot dry anomaly occurred just prior to the Little Ice Age.

Here I was thinking the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age never happened, or were purely small scale regional events. According to Michael Mann’s hockey stick, global temperatures over the last thousand years were flat as a pancake until the onset of the modern warm period, hence the hockey stick shape (do I need the /sarc tag?).

Original “hockey stick” temperature graph in Nature, 1998. The Y axis shows the Northern hemisphere mean temperature, in degrees Celsius; the zero line corresponds to the 1902 – 1980 mean. Credit: “Global-scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing over the Past Six Centuries,” by Michael E. Mann et al. in Nature, Vol. 392, April 23, 1998

Of course, if the modern warm period is being driven by quasi-periodic natural forcings rather than Anthropogenic CO2, the ominous resemblance between current conditions and the immediate prelude to the little ice age could be more than just a coincidence. But this does not appear to be a possibility the researchers at the Leibniz Institute have considered.

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January 9, 2021 at 08:40PM

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