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Queen Mary's Psalter shows men harvesting in 14th century Europe

Climatologists Piece Together a Millennium of Droughts and Downpours

© Photo: Wikimedia commons
Environment
22:00 07.11.2015(updated 22:08 07.11.2015) 

The new Old World Drought Atlas of droughts and wet weather in the Old World gives climate scientists greater perspective on current weather phenomenon.

Climate scientists have produced an atlas reconstructing weather conditions over the last millennium, in an effort to understand more about current changes to the weather.They hope their Old World Drought Atlas (OWDA) will allow for a greater understanding of climate forecasts.

“Climate model projections suggest widespread drying in the Mediterranean Basin and wetting in Fennoscandia in the coming decades largely as a consequence of greenhouse gas forcing of climate,” write the scientists in their paper, published in Science Advances on Friday.

The researchers used archaeological tree ring data to measure more than a thousand years of European weather. They compared their findings to historical accounts of severe droughts, wet weather events or other catastrophes, and found that the tree ring data corresponds with many documented incidents of extreme weather.

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The 700 Year Old Weather Chart That Gives Me Butterflies

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Oh, and look at 1741, and the terrible drought. The trees are showing the results of the cold and dry spell that began in 1739. This is the year of the great Irish famine, and it killed millions as well. Here’s what the paper has to say about the 1741 map:

The Irish famine of 1740–1741: This event has been attributed to unusually low winter and spring temperatures in 1740, resulting in crop failures and subsequent famine (17). The OWDA is not well suited for determining temperature anomalies because it primarily reflects warm season hydroclimate. However, climate field reconstructions of seasonal precipitation from documentary and early instrumental data (18) indicate that spring-summer rainfall over Ireland in 1741 was well below normal relative to the modern average. Drought over Ireland may therefore have contributed to the severity of the famine through its negative impact on food production in 1741. The OWDA map of 1741  indicates severe drought over Ireland that also extended over England and Wales, consistent with previously reported record rainfall deficits.

 

Fig. 2 OWDA maps of known years of hydroclimatic extremes

Is it just me, or does this give you the willies? It’s like looking at that big high pressure over the NW Atlantic on the night of April 14,1912. The Titanic survivors reported the ocean as still as a mill-pond, and I have the surface weather map that proves they were right. That’s how I feel about these rainfall charts. That horrible famine was seven long centuries ago, but the trees still remember, and they tell us that those old faded pieces of parchment were not exaggerating. It was real, and it left millions dead, and millions more in grief.

 

This Old World Drought Atlas will have great benefits in climate research, and historians will find them invaluable as well, but they also give us a warning. Our limited 100 years or so of written weather records can be deceiving. We think we know what a bad crop year is, and how long a bad drought can last, but our lifetimes are rather short, and perhaps we are fools. Knowing this makes fooling with our planet’s temperature control even more egregious.

The paper is open access and you can read it all HERE.

 

Read More Here

 

 

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