Study undercuts idea that ‘Medieval Warm Period’ was global

Vikings may not have colonized Greenland in nice weather

Glaciers usually advance during cold times and recede during warm ones. These two in western Greenland are now retreating from where they may have been when the Vikings arrived. Credit: Jason Briner
Glaciers usually advance during cold times and recede during warm ones. These two in western Greenland are now retreating from where they may have been when the Vikings arrived.
Credit: Jason Briner

A new study questions the popular notion that 10th-century Norse people were able to colonize Greenland because of a period of unusually warm weather. Based upon signs left by old glaciers, researchers say the climate was already cold when the Norse arrived–and that climate thus probably played little role in their mysterious demise some 400 years later. On a larger scale, the study adds to building evidence that the so-called Medieval Warm Period, when Europe enjoyed exceptionally clement weather, did not necessarily extend to other parts of the world.

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Global human freshwater footprint surges

Global freshwater footprint Credit: Fernando Jaramillo, Navarino Environmental Observatory
Global freshwater footprint
Credit: Fernando Jaramillo, Navarino Environmental Observatory

The new study shows that dams and irrigation considerably raise the global human consumption of freshwater by increasing evapotranspiration. This effect increases the loss of freshwater to the atmosphere and thereby reduces the water available for humans, societies and ecosystems on land.

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