Medieval Drought

12 Jan 2021

One story circulating on the Net in the aftermath of Christmas covers a new study that is said to have found evidence of severe drought in Europe between AD1302 and 1307BC. It directly preceded the wet and cold phase of the 1310s, we are told, and the great famine, in Europe, dated 1315-21, which decimated peasant populations in the decades prior to the arrival of the Black Death. Some of this stuff was investigated by Mike Baillie in his book, possibly his best effort so far, 'New Light on the Black Death', which  was also the subject of a talk he gave to SIS at the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill in Surrey. As a dendrochronologist at Queens University in Belfast he had noticed some peculiarites in tree rings leading up the outbreak of the plague in AD1348. He investigated a lot of sources on the period, even the kind of document that is easily dismissed by modern scientists as it involved atmospheric phenomena, comets, and heavy meteoric outbreaks. Presumably, the earth was passing through a dense stream of debris left behind by one of several notable comets seen at this time. Needless to say mainstream were not impressed by the book,  but  other people, a minority to be sure, were. See for example ....

One thing immediately leaps out of the new study if you are of a sceptical frame of mind. Climate scientists have for years prevaricated over the actuality of the Medieval Warm Period and were captured on emails admitting a desire to erase it from history as it weakened the idea that modern warming is something out of the ordinary. The original IPCC reports accepted it as a fact, and even reproduced HH Lamb's graph of temperature change over the last 1000 years. That disappeared by the Third IPCC report as a result of moving the goalposts. In the late 1990s climate scientists thought they had managed to disappear it by producing a hockey stick graph with a long handle [a flat temperature graph] followed by a sharp uptick in the late 20th century [as a result of fixing a thermometer record on to what was mainly a tree ring handle]. However, two Canadian researchers looked at the statistical methods used and discovered some far from honest research at the heart of the hockey stick construct, so much so they more or less destroyed the new miracle of changing the past to fit the present alarmist schedule. Unable to seriously refute the actuality of the Medieval Warm Period they concentrated on confining it to the North Atlantic [both sides of the pond] which was quite a clever tactic for a few years. Hidden agendas always come to light in the end and it was no different with the second line of deception. It was foiled by their own claim that global warming was global but the medieval version was not. This meant scientists all over the world, in diverse locations such as Australia, Japan, China and South America began investigating past climate. Basically, paper after paper was published that showed the Medieval Warming Period really was global. The third and current tactic employed by the climate science clique in the West was simply to ignore the Medieval Warm Period and wave their hands around. This has probably been their most successful tactic as Joe Public doesn't really go out looking at alternative views and is inclined to accept what they are told. The problem is that non-clicque scientists have also to toe the line if they want to get published and pay lip service to the mantra. This may be why this new study is heavily committed to global warming and historical precedents for  current weather patterns. In other words, the study would never have been published if they out and out had scoffed at the notion modern warming is any different than medieval warming. Play along with the gaff and you get published in a high end journal. Hence, we have lots of lard in this study and one has to have a sceptical frame of mind to sort the wheat from the chaff. On the other hand, they might seriously believe modern global warming is different and what I have said above is not true of this particular piece of research. Do you read between the lines or do you imagine between the lines.

It is easy to locate where the Medieval Warm Period began, around AD950, but not so easy to date when it came to an end. Some people say 1200 but this is not universal. We might re-frame that question and ask, when did the Little Ice Age begin - a global fall in temperatures. It was most prevalent in the later 16th century and at its most severe in the 17th. However, it is recognised that cooler weather kicked in much earlier. Some people now date the beginning as early as AD1300 - exactly where this study begins. It avoids various peculiarities in the 13th century, which are regardedf as too early for the cold climate period to set in. In fact, one could say there were also some amazing transient atmospheric events prior to 1300 as well as after 1300, as described by the likes of Matthew Paris, a monk at St Albans, or the Korean Chosun Annals and their Chinese equivalent, as well as various other sources outlined by Sacha Dobler in his remarkable paper, The Black Death and Abrupt Earth Changes in the 14th Century [available to read in full on the internet]. He is based on the continent like the authors of the new study and one wonders if they were aware of his work. The focus of their research is in making a comparison between the hot summers of 2018 and 2019 with a drought between 1302-1307. Unfortunately, the recent hot summers were not devastating as subsistence farming is a thing of the past. There are all manner of aids to get round dry weather, not least irrigation via municipal water companies. Agriculture is not the most important part of the economy which is unlike the medieval period when the majority of people were employed on the land. Famines were a reality and it was largely the poor and lower rungs of society that suffered. All it took was a rise in the price of grain.

The wet episode after 1310 is known as the 'Dante Anomaly' on the continent, named after Dante Alighieri who was living and writing at the time. The research itself is focussed on northern Italy, SE France, and east and central Europe. It is interesting to compare this with what Baillie has to say of the weather in Ireland and Britain at the same time. There is a lot of historical sources for the medieval period in a general sort of way. However, Mike Baillie, a dendrochronologist by trade, does not see tree rings as temperature thermometers. They indicate downturns or upticks in the environment, he says. Which is sufficiently different to what the authors of this study wish to impress on their readers. Short term low growth tree ring events are normally said to indicate a volcanic eruption somewhere around the world. This is because volcanic aerosols in the upper atmosphere create an opaque sky, and a restriction on the ability of the sun to warm the surface of the earth = a cooling period [the narrow growth being cool weather in the growing season rather than how cold the winter might have been]. In fact, in the late medieval period, 13th to 17th centuries, there were a lot of volcanoes and a lot of atmospheric phenomena, and this was obviously a contributory factor to the lower average temperature, which climate scientists themselves are happy to accept. One can  also look at that in another way, one that climate scientists might not like. As the opaque sky does not exist in the modern world this may explain modern global warming.

This is Part One and the Second Part will follow.