Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Climate in Medieval Times Revisited

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado–Boulder, and the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Laboratory IDL, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  • | 3 Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
  • | 4 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
  • | 5 Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, and Department of Geography, Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
  • | 6 Laboratory IDL, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
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Developing accurate reconstructions of past climate regimes and enhancing our understanding of the causal factors that may have contributed to their occurrence is important for a number of reasons; these include improvements in the attribution of climate change to natural and anthropogenic forcing, gaining a better appreciation for the range and magnitude of low-frequency variability and previous climatic regimes in comparison with the modern instrumental period, and developing greater insights into the relationship between human society and climatic changes. This paper examine upto- date evidence regarding the characteristics of the climate in medieval times (A.D. ~950–1400). Long and high-resolution climate proxy records reported in the scientific literature, which form the basis for the climate reconstructions, have greatly expanded in the last few decades, with greater numbers of sites that now cover more areas of the globe. Some comparisons with the modern climate record and discussion of potential mechanisms associated with the patterns of medieval climate are presented here, but our main goal is to provide the reader with some appreciation of the richness of past natural climate variability in terms of its spatial and temporal characteristics.

Developing accurate reconstructions of past climate regimes and enhancing our understanding of the causal factors that may have contributed to their occurrence is important for a number of reasons; these include improvements in the attribution of climate change to natural and anthropogenic forcing, gaining a better appreciation for the range and magnitude of low-frequency variability and previous climatic regimes in comparison with the modern instrumental period, and developing greater insights into the relationship between human society and climatic changes. This paper examine upto- date evidence regarding the characteristics of the climate in medieval times (A.D. ~950–1400). Long and high-resolution climate proxy records reported in the scientific literature, which form the basis for the climate reconstructions, have greatly expanded in the last few decades, with greater numbers of sites that now cover more areas of the globe. Some comparisons with the modern climate record and discussion of potential mechanisms associated with the patterns of medieval climate are presented here, but our main goal is to provide the reader with some appreciation of the richness of past natural climate variability in terms of its spatial and temporal characteristics.

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