The Little Ice Age By Eric James History 141 71154
The Little Ice Age: Timeline Idea first introduced by Francois E. Matthes in 1939. Variation of 400 years in dating as to the actual start of the little ice age based upon different events. Some would say it began with growth in Atlantic pack ice during 1250 A.D. Others would say it began with the first climatic minimum in 1650 A.D. Preceded by a climatic period of medieval warming. Europe in the rebuilding process after the fall of the Roman Empire. Saw a building spree with such structures as Westminster Abbey, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, and numerous Gothic Cathedrals. Peasants were especially vulnerable at this time. Average life span was 35-36 years. Nearly ½ of all infants die before their second birthday. Came to an end in the mid-nineteenth century.
The period known as The Little Ice Age saw a global temperature decrease of 2 to 3 degrees centigrade. Consists of three particularly cold periods of time. Believed by some climatologists to be part of a climatic cycle. Adding too much fresh water (medieval warming period) to the Oceanic Conveyer of heat could result in a failure of the conveyer to circulate warm waters. Less radiation from the sun due to a decrease in sunspots (Maunder Minimum) could’ve also contributed to the global cooling. Sulfur deposits indicate 5 major volcanic eruptions per century, resulting in massive sulfur clouds around the globe for several years. The Little Ice Age: Description
Massive effect on crops. Huge amounts of rain waterlogged farm lands. People began to starve. Turned to violence and aggression in order to gain food. Vikings were forced to flee what had been a thriving Greenland after suffering massive losses due to starvation. Livestock had to be brought indoors to flee the elements, freezing waters forced many fish to flee waters, very little vegetation could survive the cold for livestock. Led to the incorporation of the potato into the European diet. Potato blight in Ireland claimed 1.5 million lives. Starving Frenchmen refused to endorse the “evil” potato and turned to the government for aid. Government failure to provide aid led to the French Revolution. Freezing in the Northeastern United States helped force people Westward though few had been willing to go prior to the severe weather. The Little Ice Age: Effects
Wars In 1588 The world dominating Spanish Armada lost nearly 1/3 of its ships and men to massive waves and freezing waters as it went around the British Isles. Only 6 ships were lost in the actual battle. In 1812 Napoleon’s 600,000 man army invaded Russia and pushed all the way to Moscow, winning every single battle. Russians burned their lands, poisoned their waters, and retreated. After 5 weeks awaiting a treaty from the Czar in Moscow, Napoleon begins to march out of Russia. ¾ of his army dies due to freezing temperatures and starvation. Nearly 35,000 are suspected to be buried in Vilnius, Lithuania. Defeat led directly to Napoleon’s eventual downfall. George Washington’s harrowing 9 hour crossing of the Delaware River depicts the flowing ice that threatened to sink boats. The ensuing battle of Trenton saw a turning point for the American Revolution. British were not expecting such a daring attack and were caught off guard. The Little Ice Age: Effects
Tarm, Michael. "The Napoleon Graves." Baltics Worldwide. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. Little Ice Age: Big Chill. Prod. Don Cambou. The History Channel. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. "Little Ice Age." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. N.p., 14 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. The Little Ice Age: Sources