Science Questions

Can the medieval warm period and little Ice Age be used to explain or be explained in terms of current climate models?

Sun, 29th Nov 2009

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Question

Charon Wade asked:

Can the medieval warm period and little Ice Age be used to explain or be explained in terms of current climate models?

Answer

Chris - We think that it was something called the Maunder minimum and it produced the mini ice age in the Middle Ages, probably about 300 or 400 years ago. Italy was amongst the countries affected and it may be one of the reasons why some of the most wonderful violins ever made came out of that period - because the trees grew more slowly and the wood was denser during the cold period, which may explain Stradivariusís success.  But, we think that these weather conditions were down to, in that instance, a difference in solar activity; so people explain the Maunder minimum and the subsequent warming as an effect of differential solar activity, rather than the present climate change situation which is, we think, rising levels of CO2.

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