What is known: Vikings sailed to Greenland. They homesteaded there for a few hundred years, and likely experienced multiple famines. Many died. Some returned to European shores. And all of this happened during a time in Europe known to geoscientists as the Medieval Warm Period. The warmer, milder conditions that defined this time eventually ended too.
For many years, scientists have pondered if the Vikings' diaspora to Greenland was made easier by the warmer temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period. Climate data extracted from shells had indicated that this warm period extended to Greenland, but new research looking at glacial movements and using isotope data from terminal moraines suggests this may not necessarily be so.
As EARTH Magazine explores, based on the new data, scientists determined that glaciers grew from A.D. 926 to 1275, suggesting a much cooler regional temperature, and that the Medieval Warm Period was a distinctly European phenomenon. The new research also represented an opportunity to apply a method typically used to describe glacial growth on the scale of thousands to tens-of-thousands of years to scales of only a few hundred years. Read the full story in the May issue of EARTH Magazine: http://bit.
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The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.