The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or Medieval Climate Optimum was a time of unusually warm climate Medival Time in the North Atlantic region, lasting from about the tenth century to about the fourteenth century.
The MWP is Medeival Time often invoked in contentious discussions of global warming and the greenhouse effect. Some refer to the Medeval Time event as the Medieval Climatic Anomaly as this Mediveal Time term emphasizes that effects other than temperature were important .
The Medieval Warm Medieal Time Period varies little between different studies.
- 1 Initial research
- 2 Climate Meideval Time events
- 2.1 North Atlantic region
- 2.2 Other regions
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The Medieval Warm Period was a time of unusually warm weather around 800-1300 AD, during the European Medieval period. Initial research on the MWP and the following Little Ice Age (LIA) was largely done in Europe, where the phenomenon was most obvious and clearly documented.
It was initially believed that the temperature changes were global. However, this view has been questioned; the 2001 IPCC report summarises this research, saying "…current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this time frame, and the conventional terms of 'Little Ice Age' and 'Medieval Warm Period' appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries".
Palaeoclimatologists developing regionally specific climate reconstructions of past centuries conventionally label their coldest interval as "LIA" and their warmest interval as the "MWP". Others follow the convention and when a significant climate event is found in the "LIA" or "MWP" time frames, associate their events to the period. Some "MWP" events are thus wet events or cold events rather than strictly warm events, particularly in central Antarctica where climate patterns opposite to the North Atlantic area have been noticed.
The Medieval Warm Period partially coincides with the peak in solar activity named the Medieval Maximum (1100–1250).
North Atlantic region
During the MWP wine grapes were grown in Europe as far north as southern Britain although less extensively than they are today (however, factors other than climate strongly influence the commercial success of vineyards, for example wine is made in Alaska today; and the time of greatest extent of medieval vineyards falls outside the MWP). The Vikings took advantage of ice-free seas to colonize Greenland and other outlying lands of the far north. The MWP was followed by the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that lasted until the 19th century when the current period of global warming began.
In Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, researchers found large temperature excursions during the Medieval Warm Period (about 800–1300) and the Little Ice Age (about 1400–1850), possibly related to changes in the strength of North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. Sediments in Piermont Marsh of the lower Hudson Valley show a dry Medieval Warm period from AD 800–1300.
Prolonged droughts affected many parts of the western United States and especially eastern California and the western Great Basin. Alaska experienced three time intervals of comparable warmth: 1–300, 850–1200, and post-1800 AD. 
A radiocarbon-dated box core in the Sargasso Sea shows that sea surface temperature was approximately 1°C cooler than today approximately 400 years ago (the Little Ice Age) and 1700 years ago, and approximately 1°C warmer than today 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period).
The climate in equatorial east Africa has alternated between drier than today, and relatively wet. The drier climate took place during the Medieval Warm Period (~AD 1000–1270).
An ice core from the eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula, clearly identifies events of the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. The core clearly shows a distinctly cold period about AD 1000–1100, neatly illustrating the fact that "MWP" is a moveable term, and that during the "warm" period there were, regionally, periods of both warmth and cold.
Corals in the tropical Pacific ocean suggest that relatively cool, dry conditions may have persisted early in the millennium, consistent with a La Niña-like configuration of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation patterns. Although there is an extreme scarcity of data from Australia (for both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age) evidence from wave built shingle terraces for a permanently full Lake Eyre during the ninth and tenth centuries is consistent with this La Niña-like configuration, though of itself inadequate to show how lake levels varied from year to year or what climatic conditions elsewhere in Australia were like.
Adhikari and Kumon (2001) in investigating sediments in Lake Nakatsuna in central Japan have verified there the existence of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.
For further discussion of regional and global temperature variations see: Temperature record.
- Holocene Climatic Optimum
- MWP and LIA in IPCC reports
- ^ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2001: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis 2.3.3 Was there a “Little Ice Age” and a “Medieval Warm Period”?. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Jones, P. D., and M. E. Mann (2004). "Climate over past millennia". Rev. Geophys. 42 (RG2002): 404-405. DOI:10.1029/2003RG000143.
- ^ a b Raymond S. Bradley, Malcolm K. Hughes, Henry F. Diaz (2003). "Climate in Medieval Time". Science 302 (5644): 404-405. DOI:10.1126/science.1090372. (links to pdf file)
- ^ The History of English Wine: Domesday & Middle Ages. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Jones, Gregory (August 2004). Making Wine in a Changing Climate. Geotimes. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Schmidt, Gavin (2006). Medieval warmth and English wine. RealClimate. Retrieved on 2006-07-12.
- ^ The Vineyards of England and Wales. English-Wine.com. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age and 20th Century Temperature Variability from Chesapeake Bay. USGS. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Marshes Tell Story Of Medieval Drought, Little Ice Age, And European Settlers Near New York City. Earth Observatory News (May 19, 2005). Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Hu FS, Ito E, Brown TA, Curry BB, Engstrom DR (2001). "Pronounced climatic variations in Alaska during the last two millennia". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98 (19): 10552-10556. DOI:10.1073/pnas.181333798.
- ^ Keigwin, Lloyd D. (29 November 1996). "The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea". Science 274 (5292): 1503 - 1508. DOI:10.1126/science.274.5292.1503. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Drought In West Linked To Warmer Temperatures. Earth Observatory News (October 7, 2004). Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Khim, B-K; Yoon H.; Kang C.Y.; Bahk J.J. (November 2002). "Unstable Climate Oscillations during the Late Holocene in the Eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula". Quaternary Research 58 (3): 234-245(12). Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Cobb, Kim M.; Chris Charles, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards (July 8, 2003). The Medieval Cool Period And The Little Warm Age In The Central Tropical Pacific? Fossil Coral Climate Records Of The Last Millennium. The Climate of the Holocene (ICCI) 2003. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
- ^ Adhikari DP, Kumon, F. (2001). "Climatic changes during the past 1300 years as deduced from the sediments of Lake Nakatsuna, central Japan.". Limnology 2 (3): 157-168. DOI:10.1007/s10201-001-8031-7.
- Bradley and Jones, 1993
- M.K. Hughes and H.F. Diaz, "Was there a 'Medieval Warm Period?", Climatic Change 26: 109-142, March 1994
- Crowley and Lowery, 2000.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Medieval Warm Period
- The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period
- American Heritage Dictionary- "The period from about 1000 to 1400 in which global temperatures are thought to have been a few degrees above those of the preceding and following periods. The climatic effects of this period were confined primarily to Europe and North America. Also called Medieval Warm Epoch.". (American Heritage Dictionary)
Categories: History of climate | Middle Ages