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knocker

Cooling and societal change during the Late Antique Little Ice Age from 536 to around 660 AD

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Climatic changes during the first half of the Common Era have been suggested to play a role in societal reorganizations in Europe1, 2 and Asia3, 4. In particular, the sixth century coincides with rising and falling civilizations1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, pandemics7, 8, human migration and political turmoil8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Our understanding of the magnitude and spatial extent as well as the possible causes and concurrences of climate change during this period is, however, still limited. Here we use tree-ring chronologies from the Russian Altai and European Alps to reconstruct summer temperatures over the past two millennia. We find an unprecedented, long-lasting and spatially synchronized cooling following a cluster of large volcanic eruptions in 536, 540 and 547 AD (ref. 14), which was probably sustained by ocean and sea-ice feedbacks15, 16, as well as a solar minimum17. We thus identify the interval from 536 to about 660 AD as the Late Antique Little Ice Age. Spanning most of the Northern Hemisphere, we suggest that this cold phase be considered as an additional environmental factor contributing to the establishment of the Justinian plague7, 8, transformation of the eastern Roman Empire and collapse of the Sasanian Empire1, 2, 5, movements out of the Asian steppe and Arabian Peninsula8, 11, 12, spread of Slavic-speaking peoples9, 10 and political upheavals in China13.

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2652.html

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Researchers from the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) project write in the journal Nature Geoscience that they have identified an unprecedented, long-lasting cooling in the northern hemisphere 1500 years ago. The drop in temperature immediately followed three large volcanic eruptions in quick succession in the years 536, 540 and 547 AD (also known as the Common Era CE). Volcanoes can cause climate cooling by ejecting large volumes of small particles - sulfate aerosols - that enter the atmosphere blocking sunlight.

Within five years of the onset of the "Late Antique Little Ice Age", as the researchers have dubbed it, the Justinian plague pandemic swept through the Mediterranean between 541 and 543 AD, striking Constantinople and killing millions of people in the following centuries. The authors suggest these events may have contributed to the decline of the eastern Roman Empire.

Lead author, dendroclimatologist Ulf Büntgen from the Swiss Federal Research Institute said, "This was the most dramatic cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2000 years."


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-02-ice-age-coincides-fall-eastern.html#jCp

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