Medieval Warm Period

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The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or Medieval Climate Optimum was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China,[1] New Zealand,[2] and other countries[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] lasting from about AD 950–1250.[10] It was followed by a cooler period in the North Atlantic termed the Little Ice Age. Some refer to the event as the Medieval Climatic Anomaly as this term emphasizes that effects other than temperature were important.[11][12]

Despite substantial uncertainties, especially for the period prior to 1600 when data are scarce, the warmest period prior to the 20th century very likely occurred between 950 and 1100, but temperatures were probably between 0.1°C and 0.2°C below the 1961 to 1990 mean and significantly below the level shown by instrumental data after 1980. The heterogeneous nature of climate during the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ is illustrated by the wide spread of values exhibited by the individual records.[13]


Initial research

The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) is generally thought to have occurred from about AD 950–1250, during the European Middle Ages.[10] In 1965 Hubert Lamb, one of the first paleoclimatologists, published research based on data from botany, historical document research and meteorology combined with records indicating prevailing temperature and rainfall in England around 1200 and around 1600. He proposed that "Evidence has been accumulating in many fields of investigation pointing to a notably warm climate in many parts of the world, that lasted a few centuries around A.D. 1000–1200, and was followed by a decline of temperature levels till between 1500 and 1700 the coldest phase since the last ice age occurred."[14]

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