Climate and Culture Change in North America AD 900–1600
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Twenty years ago when I first read seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spanish expedition accounts of entradas marching from Monclova in northern Coahuila, Mexico, across the lower Rio Grande into Texas, I was struck by the chronicler’s reports of the lush and mesic environment in northern Mexico and South Texas. Spanish diarists describe the area as fertile, with open grasslands and vast green...
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European historians and climate scientists have long recognized that the Medieval Warm Period (ca. ad 900 to 1300) and the early centuries of the Little Ice Age (ca. ad 1300 to 1600) strongly influenced the climate and the economic and cultural history of Europe.1 The European historian and climatologist H. H. Lamb characterizes the impact of the Medieval Warm Period on Europe as significantly...
1. The Tenth Century
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The 2006 report on surface temperature reconstructions for the last two thousand years, published by the National Academy of Sciences and prepared by its research arm, the National Research Council (NRC), concludes that “[l]arge-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the Northern Hemisphere yield a generally consistent picture of temperature trends during the preceding millennium...
2. The Eleventh Century
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During the first century of the new millennium, the surface temperature in the Northern Hemisphere rapidly increased and continued to warm western Europe, the North Atlantic, and the southern temperate zone of North America. As the 2006 National Research Council report indicates, European historical accounts provide valuable information about climate and culture change in Europe and...
3. The Twelfth Century
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During the first half of the twelfth century, the Medieval Warm Period continued to provide generally favorable climatic conditions for the further intensification of agriculture, strong economic growth, the continued increase in population, the additional construction of monumental architecture, and the creation of new artistic expressions in both Europe and North America....
4. The Thirteenth Century
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The thirteenth century was a period of continued climatic instability in Europe and North America, a time of transition between the hot, dry, and sometimes droughty late Medieval Warm Period and the stuttering commencement of the cooler and more mesic Little Ice Age. In much of Europe the climate continued warm during the early decades of the century, but droughts appeared near the...
5. The Fourteenth Century
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Climatologists describe the fourteenth century as a turbulent climatic period during which the cooler and more mesic Little Ice Age increasingly impacted many parts of Europe and North America. A widely cited 2002 dendrochronological study of climate change across North America, Europe, and western Asia by Jan Espen et al. indicates that the Medieval Warm Period faded and the Little Ice...
6. The Fifteenth Century
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The Little Ice Age that began in the Northern Hemisphere during the late thirteenth century and early fourteenth century continued to influence environmental conditions and cultural change in Europe, the North Atlantic, and North America during the fifteenth century. Surface temperature reconstructions by the National Academy of Sciences indicate that during the fifteenth century surface...
7. The Sixteenth Century
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The Little Ice Age further intensified during the sixteenth century, adversely affecting agriculture and commerce and prompting serious change in culture patterns across Europe and North America. In his study of the impact of the Little Ice Age on sixteenth-century Europe, climatologist H. H. Lamb observes: “In the middle of the sixteenth century, a remarkable sharp change occurred . . . to the...
Summary and Conclusion
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Climate scientists and European historians have long recognized that the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age substantially influenced the climate, agrarian economies, and cultural history of Europe and the North Atlantic. In this summary and conclusion, after briefly reviewing the impact of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age on Europe, I focus in more detail on the impact...
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Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Clifton and Shirley Caldwell Texas Heritage Series