Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Great Famine and The Climactic Seesaw

Still enjoying Brian Fagan's The Little Ice Age. Here's what I earmarked in chapters 2 and 3.

Both archaeology and historical records provide portraits of medieval village life, but few are as complete as that from Wharram Percy, a deserted village in northeast England. Forty years of research revealed a long-established settlement that mirrors many villages of the day. Iron Age farmers lived at Wharram Percy more than 2,000 years ago. At least five Roman farms flourished here.

I promptly Googled Wharram Percy, and have added it to the list of places I hope to visit between Haworth and Scarborough. I also mentioned it to my brother and he said that he visited it last year, and recommended it highly. That's enough for me! Not only that, it appears to be a site where there is no charge to visit, and the hours are charmingly listed as "Any reasonable time." I'm going to love this trip :)

Moving on...

The climate historian Christian Pfister focuses on two crucial months that stand out in colder periods: cold Marches and cool and wet Julys. Such conditions marked 1570 to 1600, the 1690s, and the 1810s, probably the coldest decades of the Little Ice Age.

As a hardcore Janeite, it's interesting beyond all get out to find out that the 1810s, the period of which I have probably most about of any time in history, is considered one of the coldest decades of a 550-year time period.

Volcanic dust is some thirty times more effective in shielding the earth from solar radiation than it is in preventing the earth's heat from escaping...During the three years it may take for the dustr from a large eruption to settle out, the average temperature of much of the globe may drop as much as a degree, perhaps even more. The effects tend to be most marked during the summer following a major volcanic event.

Mount Tambora, in southeast Asia, erupted in 1815 and 1816 is known as the "year without a summer."

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