Old trees reveal Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA) around 1,500 years ago
|New tree-ring width measurements from the Russian Altai mountains indicate |
a drastic cold period 1,500 years ago [Credit: Vladimir S. Myglan]
"The course temperatures took in the Altai mountains corresponds remarkably well to what we found for the Alps," says Buntgen. The combined findings allow for the first time to infer summer temperatures for large parts of Eurasia over the past two millennia.
old trees in the Altai mountains allowed reconstructing Eurasia summer|
temperatures over the last 2,000 years [Credit: Vladimir S. Myglan]
Climate and culture
In light of this, the researchers refer to the period from 536 to around 660 CE for the first time as the "Late Antique Little Ice Age" (LALIA). This was triggered by three major volcanic eruptions in 536, 540 and 547 CE, whose climatic impact was prolonged further by the retardant effect of the oceans and a minimum in solar activity.
|The "Late Antique Little Ice Age" (LALIA) started 536 CE. The temperature drop|
stands out clearly in the reconstructed summer temperatures (blue shading left)
[Credit: Ulf Büntgen]
Proto-Slavic-speaking people migrated, supposedly from the Carpathian region, into the eastern areas of modern-day Europe that had been abandoned by the Romans, thereby forming the Slavic language area. According to the researchers, this period of cool temperatures may also have fostered the expansion of the Arab Empire in the Middle East. The Arabian Peninsula received more rain, growing more vegetation, which may have sustained larger herds of camels used by the Arab armies for their campaigns.
Strategies for modern-day climate change
While the researchers stress, however, that potential links between this period of cool temperatures and socio-political changes always need to be treated with great caution, they write that "the LALIA fits in well with the main transformative events that occurred in Eurasia during that time."
Ulf Buntgen points out that their study serves as an example of how sudden climatological shifts can change existing political systems: "We can learn something from the speed and scale of the transformations that took place at that time," he says. Knowledge about the effects of past climatic fluctuations could maybe contribute to developing strategies how to deal with modern climate change.
Source: Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL [February 08, 2016]
Labels Ancient Environment, ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Breakingnews, Earth Science, Palaeontology