Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments

2009 Edition
| Editors: Vivien Gornitz

Medieval Warm Period

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4411-3_137

Histories in western Europe have long recognized a “post-Carolingian” climatic amelioration, approximately since the death of Charlemagne (ad 814), the first of the “Holy Roman Emperors” of the early Middle Ages. The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was also called the “Early Medieval Warm Epoch” (Lamb, 1977, 1982) and the “Neo-Atlantic” by some palynologists. The expression “Little Climatic Optimum” (LCO) has sometimes been employed to contrast it with the dramatic warming of the “Atlantic” phase of the late Mesolithic to Neolithic ages (about 6700–4200 bc, (sidereal year)). The Atlantic phase was long known in Scandinavia as the mid-Holocene “Climatic Optimum” (also termed the “Hypsithermal”), when local temperatures were 2–3 °C above present (Roberts, 1998).

Lamb (op cit. p. 35) identified a broad long-term “summer wetness index” (rising) and compared it with a “winter severity index” (falling), based on 50-year means. Both display a systematic lengthening of the wavelength of upper...
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