EARTH Magazine: Did the Medieval Warm Period Welcome Vikings to Greenland?

EARTH Magazine

From EARTH Magazine, May 16, 2016  --  What is known: Vikings sailed to Greenland. They homesteaded there for a few hundred years, and likely experienced multiple famines. Many died. Some returned to European shores. And all of this happened during a time in Europe known to geoscientists as the Medieval Warm Period. The warmer, milder conditions that defined this time eventually ended too. 

For many years, scientists have pondered if the Vikings' diaspora to Greenland was made easier by the warmer temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period. Climate data extracted from shells had indicated that this warm period extended to Greenland, but new research looking at glacial movements and using isotope data from terminal moraines suggests this may not necessarily be so.

As EARTH Magazine explores, based on the new data, scientists determined that glaciers grew from A.D. 926 to 1275, suggesting a much cooler regional temperature, and that the Medieval Warm Period was a distinctly European phenomenon. The new research also represented an opportunity to apply a method typically used to describe glacial growth on the scale of thousands to tens-of-thousands of years to scales of only a few hundred years. Read the full story in the May issue of EARTH Magazine:

From stories about chilly climates to new discoveries about dinosaurs, EARTH Magazine brings you the hottest stories from the geoscience community. The May 2016 issue, is available for download from, includes stories about how scientists are using the "hum" of Mesa's famous arches to monitor the stability of one of America's most scenic destinations; studies of Jupiter's atmosphere;  and stories about the unique environment that recorded the footsteps of giant dinosaurs and what those footprints are revealing about the prehistoric beasts. All this, and more in EARTH Magazine. 


Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH Magazine online at: Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.