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Vikings May Have Braved Greenland’s Cool Weather

Monday, December 7, 2015

Greenland Vikings weatherNEW YORK, NEW YORK—It had been previously thought that the Vikings colonized Greenland during a period of well-documented good weather known as the Medieval Warm Period (A.D. 950-1250) and disappeared with the onset of the Little Ice Age (1300-1850). However, a new analysis of chemical isotopes in debris marking the advance of glaciers in southwest Greenland and Baffin Island suggests that the glaciers had neared or reached their later maximum Little Ice Age positions between 975 and 1275, during the period of the Viking occupation. “If the Vikings traveled to Greenland when it was cool, it’s a stretch to say deteriorating climate drove them out,” Nicolás Young of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said in a press release. “It’s becoming clearer that the Medieval Warm Period was patchy, not global,” he explained. Scholars now think that the Vikings may have abandoned Greenland because of hostilities with the Inuit, a decline in the ivory trade, soil erosion brought on by grazing their imported cattle, or a return to European farms after the depopulation brought on by the Black Plague. For more, go to "The First Vikings."

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