Little Ice Age
Europe had experienced a general cooling of the climate between years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850. This event came to be known as the “Little Ice Age. ” This cold weather had impact on agriculture, health, economics, emigration, and art and literature . The term “Little Ice Age” was named by Francois Matthes in 1939 to describe the most destructive climate drop in Europe.
This ice age was consisted of mountain glaciers which brought temperatures as low as 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Numerous people got sick and some were even killed and starved to death because of a famine.Farms and villages were lost due to the cold weather. It is unknown on what caused this “Little Ice Age. ” We do know that this event impacted the people living in Europe. Many people have spotted out that the sunspot activity during this time period was low. This rare occurrence of sunspots triggered a cold sun, also the many volcanic eruptions which then turned into an ice age.
Imagine the fog hugging the ocean waters, cold winds coming in from the north, no horizon, no boundary between the sea and sky, land is frozen, and there you are gazing at a futureless world.Although “The Little Ice Age” was not a true ice age because it didn’t last long enough to cause ice sheets to grow larger, but it did change the daily life in Europe. At the conclusion of the Medieval Warm Period, the ice age made Iceland and Greenland attractive colonies for many Europeans to emigrate to due to the lack of food and cold temperatures. Even schools of cod, fish were forced out into the western Atlantic Ocean due to the frigid water temperature. Pilgrims followed the cod down the coast of North America settling on Cape Cod.Population increased in Europe during the warm period which left a large amount of people starving and dying during the first year of “The Little Ice Age,” due to famine. Rain was harsh during this time, it drenched the farmlands.
To overcome this dilemma, farmers had plowed soils with long furrows, creating fields that absorbed large amounts of rain without doing much drainage problems. After it was cleared the land became a muddy wilderness. The crops were flattened where they grew. Europeans needed to find a new way to rely on food. One way in particular, was tree bark was made into bread.No longer were they able to rely on crops due to the flooded and frozen grounds. The frozen conditions led farmers to lose their cattle, hunters could no longer hunt for food, and fisherman could no longer fish for food.
Villages of people subcommed to the famine. The famine outbreak occurred between the years of 1315-1317 where over 25 million people died from famine or famine related diseases. One in particular known as Black Death. Many of the hungry were also killed by famine diarrhea. This condition was resulted from bad nutrition and changes in the intestines that upset the water and salt balance in the body.The people of Europe were forced to eat the flesh of dead animals as part of their survival. The hungry would abandon their homes and villages and go to hospitals and sometimes even crowded prisons just to survive.
In doing so, the large majority of people also brought on many other infectious diseases. People huddled together for warmth. When people died their clothes, including their underwear, were passed on to other people. When these people left their homes they only left with what they wore on their backs. In addition to the impact “The Little Ice Age” had on human survival, it had a large impact on economics.Increasing grain prices with lower wine production greatly affected the income of many. Property values and loss of taxes were at a decline .
Population was increasingly declining due to the famine. With all these factors many of the people suffered much hardship. The lack of production in Europe caused other countries to have bidding wars against one another for cargos of food and imports. “The Little Ice Age,” caused many people to flee Europe in search of better living habitats and survival strategies. This ice age not only affected humans, but also the wildlife and everything around it.The plants enzymes are failing them and their roots are struggling to find a way through the frozen soil. These plants can’t grow and maintain themselves in these conditions.
Pollination is nearly impossible during this time. The plants aren’t able to give off much oxygen into the atmosphere, which we breathe in. The true impact of “The Little Ice Age” began around 1600 and lasted until the 1800’s. During that time in Europe is when it was at its height. It was considered to be the most significant climate event of the last millennium.Only until recently have climatologist discovered research of climate conditions in historical times. As stated before, no one is quite sure how “The Little Ice Age” evolved.
Climatologist and historians have had many discussions on what they think was the main cause of the ice age. Today they are able to determine the yearly average temperatures, rainfalls, volcanic activity, and the effect of the sun during that period . What we know is that the sun experienced a “quiet” period, meaning its intensity was not that strong. Therefore, a cooling occurred.Sunspots which determine the suns strength were noted to be in decline. Volcanic activity is to be another known source of the cause. As the volcanoes erupted they shot out particles and gases into the air.
With these gases floating in the air it led to an event called the aerosol effect. This had reduced the amount of heat by reflecting it back into space. Europe was not able to get direct sunlight so temperatures dropped. An unscientific way that climatologists were able to determine how extreme the temperatures were and how frigid the air felt was through art.They were also able to determine through these paintings when the colder air was beginning to lift. An interesting fact regarding the ice age is the paintings that were done during that time. Artists depicted people wearing warm winter clothes, all bundled up, and landscapes were covered in snow and ice.
The theme of the paintings ended once the climate was starting to get warmer. A man once had studied more than 12,000 paintings in 41 art museums in the United States and 8 European countries to test if this hypothesis was true; that these paintings would accurately reveal the climate.He looked at the color of the clouds and sky in these paintings. By doing this scientist were able to tell when “The Little Ice Age” was at its peak and how cold it was then. The impact that “The Little Ice Age” had on neighboring countries such as Greenland and Iceland were extremely dramatic. Greenland, prior to “The Little Ice Age,” was free of packed ice and Norse Settlements were well established in the region. During “The Little Ice Age,” as the temperatures changed and plummeted, Greenland suffered considerably.
Increased hardship for families, animals, and agriculture, all do to the conditions “The Little Ice Age,” brought along. This included flooding and storminess. “The Little Ice Age” caused major economic disruption throughout Europe. Ice covered seas made voyages extremely difficult. Settlements were either abandoned or died out when temperatures were at only 2 degrees. In the Norse Settlements, archeologists have discovered the clothing on the bodies of the buried to be in remarkably good shape due to the frozen grounds. Iceland was another country that suffered greatly.
Since the fourteenth centaury Iceland’s major economic contributor has been exporting fish. Harsh winter temperatures made it nearly impossible to sustain this industry. Icelanders fished from open boats, not far from land, and tried to survive on local farming relatives that lived close to shore. With the population of 50,000 between the years of 1750-1758, 17,000 people died of hunger or disease. Ireland’s main source of income and stability in their country was the import and export of potatoes. Ireland had adopted the potato from America.Irish farm workers ate nothing else besides potatoes.
Later on, the people of Ireland would suffer the worst due to the worst famine Ireland had ever experienced. We need to understand that the ice age has proven to have affected millions of people in the world and many countries. Starvation, hunger, crime, economic hardship, and settlements that were lost were all due to a period in time that we still don’t know too much about. What “The Little Ice Age” did to many parts of Europe has, and will change the future events that will go on. Because of the ice age tree heights have been altered.Many trees have gone, so the ones that are left are not as big as they used to be. This means the people of Europe will have little supply of wood to be able to make things such as furniture and paper.
The disappearance of animals will be affected. Many fish such as cod have traveled to different waters around the world. This lowers the population of fish in Europe which hurts fisherman, trade, business, and food supply. Also that many animals have died and decomposed into the ground, it leaves hunters empty handed with fur to use as clothing and trade.Europe also suffers agriculturally. The harvest supplies that were destroyed during the ice age have led Europe to a decline in crop production today, such as cotton. If warming trends continue in Europe, growing seasons will lengthen, and wine vineyards will be established again in England.
Many people have questioned as to whether the “Little Ice Age” will happen again. For hundreds of years, scientists have been observing the sun, examining the sun spots, wondering if the ice age could happen again. The scientist are discussing that the number of sun spots should be increasing.Human made greenhouses that help release carbon dioxide is a major factor in keeping the atmosphere warm. In addition, the ocean plays a tremendous part in keeping the climate on track. If melting ice caps and glaciers off of Greenland flows into the Northern Atlantic, it will shut down the Gulf Stream, also known as the “Great Conveyer. ” In this situation, the icy cold water would shut down the Gulf Stream, which now keeps Europe warm.
Worst case scenario would be a full blown ice age or a period of harsh winters. Now, if the warming continues and keeps progressing on the right path, then the growing seasons in Europe will lengthen.This is important because the majority of European citizens depend on this to grow food that they need for the upcoming seasons. Farms will be cleared to be closer to the Arctic Circle. In this area the sun is visible through the summer and does not set. Farmers can’t stress enough about having sun on their farm. It is crucial in their growth of their crops.
The people of Europe had come a long way to deal with this ice age. Some of the things that they did were to migrate to other countries, away from the cold temperatures, and build houses that were together so that they could keep warm and not disrupt their family relation.If we keep building greenhouse affects and burn fossil fuels, Europe may be able to recover fully and successfully. If “The Little Ice Age” has taught us anything, it is that climate change and weather are unpredictable, and we should always be prepared for any sudden shift in change. This was the Europeans story of how climate made history. http://science. jrank.
org/pages/47813/Little-Ice-Age. html http://www. geocraft. com/WVFossils/ice_ages. html http://www. commondreams. org/views04/0130-11.