Monday, July 31, 2006

The European Warm Period ...

or better, the European Climate Optimum, was a period between 1000 and 1300 AD during which the climate in Europe was very warm compared to the immediately previous and following times. Often in the literature this is referred to as the Medieval Warm Period. While medieval is a term that only refers to a period of european history, those who seek to minimize the effects of humans on current climate often ignore the local nature of the warming in the European Climate Optimum to argue that it shows that current warming is not anomolous.

In the period 900 - 1400 AD, warming inferred from paleoclimate and historical records in other regions of the globe were not synchronous with the European warm period. The IPCC Third Assesment Report concluded that

Thus current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, 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.
Use of the preferred term "European Climate Optimum" clearly establishes the locality of the phenomenon as well as implying that because current warming exceeds that seen in the early parts of the last millennium, we have already gone beyond the optimum.

No comments: