21 June 2008

Climate Change and the Greenland Norse

About 700 AD, the advent of the Medieval Warm Period(700-1200)gave rise to the Viking Age, ultimately leading to the attack on the monastery at Lindesfarne, an island off the northeastern coast of England in 793.

The warmer weather increased production of everything they ate. Populations among the Viking tribes burgeoned dramatically. This eventually led to thoughts of expansion and conquest; the norm throughout human history.

The ice-locked fjords began to clear earlier in the season than normal, allowing the Northmen to sail from their northern fjords to go iviking. The length of the raiding and trading season continued to increase over the 500-year period of the Medieval Warm Period.

While all this Viking activity continued in the homelands of the Norse people and over much of what is now modern Europe, about 870, Norse settlers reached Iceland. Many more followed the original settlers; the population continued to grow until all the good land was occupied.

The Vikings exploded out over the north and western Atlantic Ocean as a consequence.

In 986, Eirik the Red sailed from Iceland with 25-ships loaded with settlers and their goods. Fourteen ships made it safely to Greenland.

Thus began the 500-year saga of the Norse Greenland settlements.

The five hundred years of comparatively benign weather during the Medieval Warm Period fostered the Viking Age. Earth's next weather cycle, the Mini-Ice Age(1300-1800), played a major roll in ending it, especially for isolated--from the homeland--Norse Greenland.

The northern hemisphere became colder and colder as the Mini-Ice Age increased in ferocity.

The Greenland Norse lifestyle could not be maintained in the face of Climate Change and a changing environment--starvation loomed.

Finally, sometime in the early 15th century, the last holdouts on Greenland joined their brethren in North America.

The Norse people of Greenland joined with the native peoples of North America, never to be seen again.

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