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 AD, during the period known as late antiquity.


Its existence was proposed as a theory in 2015, and subsequently confirmed as the interval from 536 to about 660 AD.[1] This period followed three immense volcanic eruptions in 536, 540 and 547. One of the suspected volcanic sites for those events is the Rabaul caldera, in the western Pacific, which erupted around 540. The extreme weather events of 535–536 were the early phenomena of the century-long global temperature decline.

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.[1][2]

Regional impacts[edit]

Middle East[edit]

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.[3] Elusa housed tens of thousands of people during its height.[3] The major decline took place around the middle of the sixth century, about a century before the Islamic conquest.[4] One possible explanation for the crisis was the Late Antique Little Ice Age.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "New 'Little Ice Age' coincides with fall of Eastern Roman Empire and growth of Arab Empire". Heritage Daily. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b [1]
  4. ^ 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. PMID 30910983.