, Volume 26, Issue 2-3, pp 225-241

The medieval warm period on the southern Colorado Plateau

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Abstract

Several questions concerning the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), an interval (A.D. 900 to 1300) of elevated temperatures first identified in northern Europe, are addressed with paleoenvironmental and archaeological data from the southern Colorado Plateau in the southwestern United States. Low and high frequency variations in alluvial groundwater levels, floodplain aggradation and degradation, effective moisture, dendroclimate, and human adaptive behavior fail to exhibit consistent patterns that can be attributed to either global or regional expressions of the MWP. There is some suggestion, however, that climatic factors related to the MWP may have modified the regional patterns to produce minor anomalies in variables such as the number of intense droughts, the occurrence of specific droughts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the prevalence of low temporal variability in dendroclimate, and the coherence of some low and high frequency environmental variables and aspects of human adaptive behavior. These results suggest that the MWP does not represent warming throughout the world. Rather, it was a complex phenomenon that probably was expressed differently in different regions.