Frozen birds and flooded towns: How Britain grappled with climate change 500 years ago

Posted: April 18, 2022 by oldbrew in climate, History, Natural Variation, weather
Tags:

Frost fair


Natural climate variation has always been, and still is, a fact of life, regardless of minor changes to trace gases in the atmosphere.
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Extreme weather not just a modern phenomenon as study reveals how British towns experienced drastic climate during ‘Little Ice Age’
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Extreme weather caused by global warming is one of the biggest threats facing the world today, claims the Daily Telegraph.

However, a research project has thrown light on the catastrophic climate shift endured by England just a few centuries ago, which brought snowstorms that lasted weeks, flooding which washed away entire villages and winds that sank flotillas of ships.

From the 1500s to the 1700s, England went through an unusually cold and stormy period, nicknamed the Little Ice Age, which was possibly caused either by reduced activity from the sun, volcanic eruptions or atmospheric changes.

The strange climatic shift happened before weather was accurately monitored, so Western University in Canada has trawled through diaries, chronicles and political treatises to find out exactly what happened and map the areas worst hit. It makes for sobering reading.

“The material that we’ve been gathering is totally different from anything that’s been gathered,” said Prof Madeline Bassnett, the director of the project.

On one catastrophic day, Oct 5 1570, the team uncovered dozens of anecdotes recounting widespread devastation following violent storms.

In Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, an innkeeper and his son were swept away along with their home, which was deposited six miles away in an “inhospitable marsh”.

On the same day, Holinshed’s Chronicles detailed how the “whole towne” of Mumby, Lincolnshire was lost to rising floodwaters “except three houses”.

Full article here.

Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    D.T. article:
    Previously, biologists have studied tree rings to learn about the climate and weather of the period.

    However, Liz Sutherland, a geography and cartography specialist at Western University, said: “Tree rings don’t tell you how fast the wind was blowing and they don’t give you context. They don’t tell you about how it felt to be in that extreme weather.

    “I think there’s something to be said about combining the two sciences and seeing how that might impact people’s understanding of the climate at that time.”

  2. […] Frozen birds and flooded towns: How Britain grappled with climate change 500 years ago […]

  3. jeremyp99 says:

    “From the 1500s to the 1700s, England went through an unusually cold and stormy period, nicknamed the Little Ice Age, which was possibly caused either by reduced activity from the sun, volcanic eruptions or atmospheric changes.”

    … or a combination of all three…

  4. JB says:

    “On one catastrophic day, Oct 5 1570, the team uncovered dozens of anecdotes”

    Longest living team I ever heard of.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Back in the present…

    Snow totals top 40 inches as April blizzard blasts northern U.S.
    Apr 14, 2022

    The storm that delivered deadly severe weather to the South Central states buried those farther north in record-challenging snowfall and blizzard conditions.

    https://kelo.com/2022/04/14/339435/

  6. peterandnen says:

    But fortunately Nikola Tesla then saved the planet with Electrickery in 1800.

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    But the advantages!!!
    All energy was by wind and sun (when there was some) apart from the roughly million tons per year of coal shipped south from Newcastle – hence the phrase about shipping coal there. The air in London was so foul with pollution that Stephen Gray could observe the sun and note the few sunspots and the first White Flash (when the sun woke up in 1705).
    People didn’t travel much and did so slowly. It was quicker to get to Amsterdam from London by boat than it was to go to Newcastle by land. (remember Turpin’s ride? and why it was considered fast?).
    And the many who froze to death in winter, thus avoiding the plague in summer (1665) and the fires in 1666.
    And this is the world the Greenies hanker to return to.

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