New paper finds Medieval Warming Period was ~1°C warmer than current temperatures

Russ Steele

A few year ago my wife and I traveled to Orkney  Scotland to observe the Bronze and Iron Age archeological sites on the island. We as many sites we came across archeological digs underway by researchers.  Here is an example of one that we missed:

A paper published today in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology finds that the Medieval Warming Period “was warmer than the late 20th century by ~1°C.”

Marine climatic seasonality during early medieval times (10th to 12th centuries) based on isotopic records in Viking Age shells from Orkney, Scotland

Abstract: 

Seasonal sea-surface temperature (SST) variability during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), which corresponds to the height of Viking exploration (800–1200 AD), was estimated using oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) obtained from high-resolution samples micromilled from archaeological shells of the European limpet,Patella vulgata. Our findings illustrate the advantage of targeting SST archives from fast-growing, short-lived molluscs that capture summer and winter seasons simultaneously. Shells from the 10th to 12th centuries (early MCA) were collected from well-stratified horizons, which accumulated in Viking shell and fish middens at Quoygrew on Westray in the archipelago of Orkney, Scotland. Their ages were constrained based on artifacts and radiocarbon dating of bone, charred cereal grain, and the shells used in this study. We used measured δ18OWATER values taken from nearby Rack Wick Bay (average 0.31 ± 0.17‰ VSMOW, n = 11) to estimate SST from δ18OSHELL values. The standard deviation of δ18OWATER values resulted in an error in SST estimates of ± 0.7 °C. The coldest winter months recorded in the shells averaged 6.0 ± 0.6 °C and the warmest summer months averaged 14.1 ± 0.7 °C. Winter and summer SST during the late 20th century (1961–1990) was 7.77 ± 0.40 °C and 12.42 ± 0.41 °C, respectively. Thus, during the 10th to 12th centuries winters were colder and summers were warmer by ~ 2 °C and seasonality was higher relative to the late 20th century. Without the benefit of seasonal resolution, SST averaged from shell time series would be weighted toward the fast-growing summer season, resulting in the conclusion that the early MCA was warmer than the late 20th century by ~ 1 °C. This conclusion is broadly true for the summer season, but not true for the winter season. Higher seasonality and cooler winters during early medieval times may result from a weakened North Atlantic Oscillation index.

Please note last two sentences. It is clear that the PDO and he AMO have a broad cyclical influence on our climate. I am working on another post on these two factors in our coming climate change.

H/T to the No Tricks Zone for this link.

 

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Author: Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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