Late Antique Little Ice Age

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The Late Antique Little Ice Age was a long-lasting Northern Hemisphere cooling period in the 6th and 7th century CE, during the period known as late antiquity. This period coincides with two to three immense volcanic eruptions in 525/536, 539/540 and 547. The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the early phenomena of the century-long global temperature decline. One study suggested a global cooling of 2 °C (3.6 °F).[1]

Description[edit]

The existence of a cooling period was proposed as a theory in 2015, and subsequently confirmed as the interval from 536 to about 660 CE.[2] This period coincides with two to three immense volcanic eruptions in 525/536, 539/540 and 547. The 536 eruption is surmised to have been from a high-latitude volcano, such as in Alaska or Iceland.[1] However, the 535 eruption of Krakatoa is also a suggested candidate.[3] The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the early phenomena of the century-long global temperature decline. One study suggested a global cooling of 2 °C (3.6 °F).[1]

The 539/540 volcano is believed to have been Ilopango in present-day El Salvador.[1] Another suspected volcanic site is the Rabaul caldera in the western Pacific, which erupted around 540.

The evidence comes from a temperature reconstruction from the Euro-Med2k working group of the international PAGES (Past Global Changes) project, using new tree-ring measurements from the Altai Mountains, which closely matches the temperatures in the Alps in the last two centuries.[2][4] Additional ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica show increases in sulfate, a product of volcanic eruptions, at 536 and 539/540.[1]

Regional impacts[edit]

Mesoamerica[edit]

It is theorized that the eruption of Ilopango and subsequent weather events and agricultural failures directly led to the abandonment of Teotihuacan by the original inhabitants.[5]

Middle East[edit]

According to research by a team from the Swiss Federal Research Institute at Birmensdorf, the fall in temperatures led to the Arabian peninsula experiencing a dramatic increase in fertility. The boost of food supply contributed to the Arab expansion beyond the Arabian peninsula in the Islamic conquests. The cool period also led to increased strain on the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanid Persian Empire, hence easing the Muslim conquest of the Levant, the Muslim conquest of Egypt and the Muslim conquest of Persia.[6]

According to research done by Israeli scientists, starting in 540, the size of the population of the city of Elusa in the Negev desert and the amount of garbage it generated shrank greatly.[7] Elusa housed tens of thousands of people during its height.[7] The major decline took place around the middle of the sixth century, about a century before the Islamic conquest.[8] One possible explanation for the crisis was the Late Antique Little Ice Age.

Mediterranean region[edit]

The cooling period coincided with the Plague of Justinian, that began in 541, though the connection between the plague and the volcanoes still remains tenuous.[1]

The cooling period contributed to the migrations of the Lombards and Slavs into Roman territory in Italy and the Balkans.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Michael Greshko (August 23, 2019). "Colossal volcano behind 'mystery' global cooling finally found". National Geographic. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Büntgen, Ulf; Myglan, Vladimir S.; Ljungqvist, Fredrik Charpentier; McCormick, Michael; Di Cosmo, Nicola; Sigl, Michael; Jungclaus, Johann; Wagner, Sebastian; Krusic, Paul J.; Esper, Jan; Kaplan, Jed O.; De Vaan, Michiel A. C.; Luterbacher, Jürg; Wacker, Lukas; Tegel, Willy; Kirdyanov, Alexander V. (2016). "Cooling and societal change during the Late Antique Little Ice Age from 536 to around 660 AD". Nature Geoscience. Nature Geoscience 9. (3): 231–236. Bibcode:2016NatGe...9..231B. doi:10.1038/ngeo2652.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  3. ^ Wohletz, K. H. (2000). "Were the dark ages triggered by volcano-related climate changes in the 6th century". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 48 (81): F1305. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  4. ^ "New 'Little Ice Age' coincides with fall of Eastern Roman Empire and growth of Arab Empire". Heritage Daily. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ Clive Oppenheimer (2011). Eruptions that shook the world. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64112-8.
  6. ^ a b Ulf Büntgen, Vladimir S. Myglan, Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Michael McCormick, Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Sigl, Johann Jungclaus, Sebastian Wagner, Paul J. Krusic, Jan Esper, Jed O. Kaplan, Michiel A. C. de Vaan, Jürg Luterbacher, Lukas Wacker, Willy Tegel & Alexander V. Kirdyanov (2016). "Cooling and societal change during the Late Antique Little Ice Age from 536 to around 660 AD". Nature Geoscience. 9 (3): 231–236. Bibcode:2016NatGe...9..231B. doi:10.1038/ngeo2652.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b Hasson, Nir (26 March 2019). "Muslim Conquest Wasn't Behind Negev Towns' Collapse 1,300 Years Ago. It Was Something else". Haaretz.
  8. ^ Guy Bar-Oz and 21 others (2019). "Ancient trash mounds unravel urban collapse a century before the end of Byzantine hegemony in the southern Levant". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (17): 8239–8248. doi:10.1073/pnas.1900233116. PMC 6486770. PMID 30910983.