Climatic Change

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 53–82 | Cite as

The Initiation of the "Little Ice Age" in Regions Round the North Atlantic

  • J.M. Grove


The "Little Ice Age" was the most recent period during which glaciers extended globally, their fronts oscillating about advanced positions. It is frequently taken as having started in the sixteenth or seventeenth century and ending somewhere between 1850 and 1890, but Porter (1981) pointed out that the "Little Ice Age" may 'have begun at least three centuries earlier in the North Atlantic region than is generally inferred'. The glacial fluctuations of the last millennium have been traced in the greatest detail in the Swiss Alps, where the "Little Ice Age" is now seen as starting with advances in the thirteenth century, and reaching an initial culmination in the fourteenth century. In the discussion here, evidence from Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen and Scandinavia is compared with that from Switzerland. Such comparisons have been facilitated by improved methods of calibrating radiocarbon dates to calendar dates and by increasing availability of evidence revealed during the current retreat phase. It is concluded that the "Little Ice Age" was initiated before the early fourteenth century in regions surrounding the North Atlantic.

glacial initiation "Little Ice Age" North Atlantic 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.M. Grove
    • 1
  1. 1.Girton CollegeCambridgeUnited Kingdom

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