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back to article Climate was HOTTER in Roman, medieval times than now: Study

Americans sweltering in the recent record-breaking heatwave may not believe it - but it seems that our ancestors suffered through much hotter summers in times gone by, several of them within the last 2,000 years. Reconstruction of past climate. Credit: Insititute of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Phew, what a …

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Meh

The Romans had quite extensive vineyards around York so we've 'always' known it was a bit warmer back then.

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Yes and the alarmists always point to the victorian "ice faires" as an example of how much the climate has warmed, they never know what to say when I mention those Roman the vineyards up North.

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So climate deniers say the thousands of weather stations around the world were misreading the increase in global temperature and it does not exists. Then a group funded by climate sceptics and led by a physicist prove that the temperature is going up as the weather stations were saying.... So given the difficulty of measuring global temperature when we have thousands of stations we are supposed to believe this is accurate data? From Roman or Medieval times when they didn't even know the American continent even existed. Historical anecdote indicates it was probably warmer in this part of the world during the Summer months during the Roman and Medieval periods - almost certainly - although vineyards are not that good an indicator given there is a Sheffield vineyard that produces thousands of bottles right now. But extrapolating to the whole World! Even if some Antarctic data also fits your theory that is a massive jump in extrapolation to rival even the most wildly inaccurate climate model.

I don't understand the polarisation in the climate space since it obviously wrecks peoples critical abilities. I suppose the media benefit as they sell more papers or get more clicks - maybe that is the real conspiracy here :-)

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Mushroom

Did Lewis read the same paper?

Thanks to the link below I got to read the actual paper - the standard of reporting on this issue is atrocious. The paper looked at tree data from a small area of Scandinavia. Also pointing out that they have experienced a lot less warming in recent years than other northern areas.... Hmm do you think that may be true 1000's of years ago - it could have been warmer or cooler than the global average we don't know. So for CLIMATE in Lewis's article read WEATHER, i.e. Local effects for which it is extremely inaccurate to extrapolate to the world. Glad my knee jerk feeling that this was a daft extrapolation has been verified by the paper.

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vineyards and ice fairs

The Roman vineyards all through England were the first thing I thought of when I read that article.

And the medieval London Bridge played a key role in making the ice fairs possible. It had many narrow arches, and thus many thick supports in mid-stream, which slowed the river down considerably, making it much more likely to freeze.

I knew this anyway :) but it was mentioned in a recent, excellent BBC TV programme on London's bridges.

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Anonymous Coward

As for "ice fairs" on the Thames ... there was a TV program I saw recently which, I think, was talking about the Victorian's constructing their sewage system in London an how thas a side effect of this was the building of the embankments along each side of the Thames in Central London. Presenter commented how that it was sometimes dificult to imagine how that before this the Thames was almost twice as wide as it is now ... and then added that narrowing it meant the flow rate was much higher which meant that it no longer was able to get frozen over as it had done before this time. So absence of "ice fairs" is probably more a sign of Victorian river engineering than global warming!

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In Roman times, Egypt was a major producer of wheat. Now it is a desert, so we've always known it was a bit colder back then.

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Holmes

@Ooloons

"So climate deniers say the thousands of weather stations around the world were misreading the increase in global temperature and it does not exists. Then a group funded by climate sceptics and led by a physicist prove that the temperature is going up as the weather stations were saying.... So given the difficulty of measuring global temperature when we have thousands of stations we are supposed to believe this is accurate data? From Roman or Medieval times when they didn't even know the American continent even existed."

OK, so historic data is totally untrustworthy, unless it supports your thesis? Then again, I should have said "religion", because you've started off carping about "climate deniers", which rather gives way your lack of critical scientific thinking.

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Did you hear this from a man in a pub?

Often known as 'gintellectuals' .

"Whether they actually planted vineyards in England is less certain although there is recent archaeological evidence to suggest that they did attempt commercial vine-growing in the Northamptonshire area."

THE WINELANDS OF BRITAIN: PAST, PRESENT & PROSPECTIVE by Richard Selley.

http://www.winelandsofbritain.co.uk/book.htm

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Holmes

Re: @Ooloons

Cool @Ledswinger is a denier of climate deniers. I didn't know anyone had theorised they were a figment of our imagination... Maybe some let the twat-o-tron loose and it deed polled itself to Lewis Page :-O

Oh and BTW all historical data is untrustworthy and you use your critical faculties to decide how untrustworthy -hence the 1000's of weather stations vs a few bits of rotten wood in Finland. I'm not saying either are perfect just if I had to bet on it I'd not punt more than a couple of quid on it.

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Pint

It seems fair to ask.

>>The Romans had quite extensive vineyards around York so we've 'always' known it was a bit warmer back then.<<

It is by no means impossible to have a successful vineyard and produce quality table grapes and wines in a cool or cold climate.

Here you'll find an overview of US states, including Alaska:

<a href="http://www.vineyardsandwineries.com/ " a>Vineyards and Wineries</a>

So the question then becomes "What varieties were grown in Roman York and how they were managed?

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Boffin

Re: jonathanb

"In Roman times, Egypt was a major producer of wheat. Now it is a desert, so we've always known it was a bit colder back then." Wheat farming in the Nile delta was largely based then as now on the path of the Nile itself, but that path has shifted many miles. The old Nile used to pass within several hundred yards of the pyramids at Giza and right in front of the paws of the Sphynx. And anyone that has been out to see the laser show at Giza will confirm that it gets damn cold at night, more than cold enough for wheat!

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Anonymous Coward

@that steve guy

"Yes and the alarmists always point to the victorian "ice faires" as an example of how much the climate has warmed, they never know what to say when I mention those Roman the vineyards up North."

Do they then walk away saying something like 'forkwhat hasn't got a clue what he's talking about'?

Grapes are being grown today in Vermont.

Does that 'prove' that Vermont's climate is as warm as York in Roman times, or that Roman York was as cold as Vermont's winter?

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Boffin

Re: It seems fair to ask.

"....It is by no means impossible to have a successful vineyard and produce quality table grapes and wines in a cool or cold climate....." Hmmm, I'm assuming you've never been to York! One of the things that can kill grape production is too much rain, which York has in spades. The Romans brought their Med varieties of grapes from Spain, France and Italy to the UK, and they flourished in many areas (one clue is the large number of wine-related street names in the older parts of London), but cannot be successfully grown in the UK today. In the UK today we use special hardy strains of grapevine completely different to the old Roman types.

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Unhappy

Where in Egypt, exactly?

"In Roman times, Egypt was a major producer of wheat. Now it is a desert, so we've always known it was a bit colder back then."

I don't know which part of Egypt you are referring to but when I was in Upper Egypt a few months ago the place was far from being a desert, with lots of sugar cane etc. being grown and harvested. That's the river valley south of Cairo by the way. Lower Egypt especially the Delta is still extremely fertile and produces a huge amount of produce.

It may have been a bit WETTER back then, but that hasn't much to do with the change in temperature.

Oh, as to it being colder back then as you state; I'm glad I wasn't about then as when I was there in February it was freezing, the coldest winter for over thirty years I was told.

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Terminator

Re: @Ooloons

"Cool @Ledswinger is a denier of climate deniers."

Oh, boo fuckin hoo, I've been called a "denier". Even worse than being called a racist, the previous ultimate insult from the PC brigade, who now seem to have evolved into the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming ...oops, Anthropogenic Global Climate Change.

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Of course it was warmer in the past ..

... we're cooling down to an ice age. That by definition means it was warmer in the past, and makes the warming we're currently seeing all the more incredible. What hasn't happened in living memory is anything like the CO2 concentrations we see now - CO2 concentrations are higher than any time Man roamed the earth. Ocean acidification caused by CO2 also new during our tenure as as big a threat as warming alone.

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Re: @that steve guy

We get a lot of talk over here that the recent growth of the British wine industry "is a direct result of our warming climate", it comes up a lot even in the media.

If you are saying it doesn't need to be that warm to grow them, then why do we get fed this argument?

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Devil

wine, shwine

Whether vineyards were thriving in Britain is a red herring. It's a LOCAL phenomenon. Ditto this tree ring study is limited to one area of Scandinavia, and is thus not applicable globally.

On the other hand, a huge chunk of 'hockey-stick' data is also coming from similair tree-ring studies that are very local in scope, and as this study mentions, some of those tree-ring studies showing a warming trend are done using tiny samples. Clearly more work is needed to clarify the longer-term trends, however the warming in the last 100-150 years (since accurate instruments have been available) and particularly in the last 40-50 years (since extremely accurate GLOBAL satellite measurements are available) is undeniable.

Part of this warming (probably more than half) is down to human-induced CO2 increases. But even allowing for this, the increasing CO2 output will only account for less than 1 degree warming. Global armageddon scenarios only exist when taking into account feedback processes that are put into models, but are really poorly understood in reality.

One degree warming over 100 years is no big deal, CO2 is a red herring compared to the more important issue which is security of energy supply. THAT is why we should be relying less and less on fossil fuels and more and more on nuclear + renewables.

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This was the result of irrigation.. not heat.

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Re: @Ooloons

@ledswinger - learn to read - I called you a 'denier of climate deniers' not a 'climate denier' you are in a league of stupidity beyond the norm :-)

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Happy

@AndrueC - Extent of Roman Empire and Vineyards.

Way back when I was learning about Roman history in school, I was taught the Romans didn't extend their empire further north than points where vineyards could be sustained. It's why there's little Roman activity past the latitude that Roman outposts such as Trier is on (about 50°N), and Trier was used as the quintessential example. (York, being a few degrees further North, presumably could support grapes because of the gulf stream.)

Not surprisingly, that's pretty much the limit for vineyards today--but you'll only get wishy-washy whites and not glorious Cabernet and Shiraz at latitudes around 50°N (before I'm shot--apologies to the Moselle and Rheingau, I believe Schloss Johannisberg does make a passable trockenbeerenauslese). ;-)

...But on the flimsy evidence available, whether it'd be easier for Schloss Johannisberg to make a better trockenbeerenauslese in Roman times than now, seems moot. Same for wines from York I'd reckon.

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Happy

@Oolons -- Re: Did Lewis read the same paper? - - Does it really matter?

Does it really matter? Lewis is feeding snappy piranhas and they're biting on cue.

;-)

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Re: vineyards and ice fairs

A few years ago I was in Slovakia, in temperatures of -20C with snow on the ground. They said it was a normal winter.

They have vinyards on the south-facing slopes, and make jolly nice wine. So the presence of Roman Vinyards says very little about the average temperature.

It may tell us something about average summer rainfall, though, grapes being very susceptible to mildew.

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"Yes and the alarmists always point to the victorian "ice faires" as an example of how much the climate has warmed, they never know what to say when I mention those Roman the vineyards up North."

The restoration era had the Thames freezing in cold weather. Part of that was due to the London Bridge of the time, which restricted the flow of water downstream.

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Follow the Dollars (or Pounds as it were)

The polarizm is all about the dollar. If huge sums of money weren't involved, this would not be the issue it is. However, people have made careers out of thiis topic. Business have made billion dollar decisions based on this topic and the FUD and warm fuzzies that it produces. It isn't going away, unfortunately, because there is just too much at stake.

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Re: @Ooloons @ Posted Tuesday 10th July 2012 13:26 GMT

a lot more trees than the single tree in Yamal that underpins the shoddy hockey stick

A complete series of dendrochronology ignored except for one single tree in Yamal

If that level of work is acceptable for the science deniers (CAGW team) then it is perfectly valid for CAGW deniers to use the same tools to give another theory - or is dendrochronology reserved for use by CAGW advocates and their single Man high priest ?

Hoist by his own tree rings ....

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I'm not sure we care too much about the actual temperature or climate.

What people worry about is how disruptive it would be to have the Thames burst its banks on a regular basis, leading to increased insurance claims. Our commercial desire for a static environment is what is at stake. In previous eras we would have just moved a bit further from the river. Now we have billions of GBP wrapped up in the river/sea level not rising and flooding.

Rather like the fact that we are hooked on house-price increases, we are hooked on property ownership which is difficult to move.

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Re: vineyards and ice fairs

" It had many narrow arches, and thus many thick supports in mid-stream, which slowed the river down considerably, making it much more likely to freeze."

BS. Many narrow arches & thick supports mid stream SPEED UP the river.

To slow down the river you have to REDUCE the volume or INCREASE the channel cross section.

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Pint

Re: Did you hear this from a man in a pub?

Maybe there was a Roman equivalent of the Ground Nut Scandal... big investments in a project doomed to failure because the plant couldn't grow in the local conditions?

This is a better crop for the area.

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I always thought that it was a lack of rain that made a desert not the temp. Antartica is the world's most desert place so by your logic since Egypt is now a desert it must be a lot colder.

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A possible answer

Nowadays there are wine producers in Norway, google for "Côte de Rodeløkka”... it's a little bit northern to the Orkney Islands. So, following your logic, this should be a clear indicator that today's climate is warmer than in roman time, shouldn't it?

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Rob
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Boffin

Re: It seems fair to ask.

We've also got to take into account the large vineyard diseases (aphids) which wiped out a large population of grapes in Europe (more so France) in the 1800's. When Europe got hit with the disease we ended up importing a few strains from the US that were resistant to the aphids, due to this grafting process I doubt the strain of grape used by the Romans exists anywhere now.

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Childcatcher

"I don't understand the polarisation in the climate space since it obviously wrecks peoples critical abilities"

Hard to take that seriously from someone who opens with 'climate deniers'. Until population expansion is addressed nearly everything you do is delaying the inevitable. I'm of the opinion that wasting resources doesn't make any logical sense and that's why I recycle/use energy savers/etc, but I don't truly believe that what I'm doing will have any real long term benefit in the context of our planets future.

The elephant is still in the room, I can see that it's easier to vilify 'climate deniers' though.

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Re: vineyards and ice fairs

"BS. Many narrow arches & thick supports mid stream SPEED UP the river.

To slow down the river you have to REDUCE the volume or INCREASE the channel cross section."

Surely many narrow arches and thick supports will create what is essentially a dam. The water that is allowed through will flow faster through the arches, but the water that cannot get through will create a higher water level that is very slow moving for some distance up stream until you get quite close to the actual arches where the bottle neck is.

Think sand timer. Grains of sand at the opening fall through rapidly. Grains of sand everywhere else moving very slowly. If it were water, those slow moving would freeze at the surface and underneath would continue to flow.

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Re: wine, shwine

@James Micallef

Going to call you on something: "Part of this warming (probably more than half) is down to human-induced CO2 increases"

It is *theorized* that this is the case: It is not proven.

There is another theory that doesn't get a lot of air time: That the Clean Air Act is partly responsible. (the following is a rough - and simplified - gist of the theory):

For 200+ years, we had heavy pollution over many major areas of Europe which caused artificial cooling at ground level. This has been studied and reported by French scientists a few years back. Now, we have something called the Gulf stream that helps warm us, too (we should share the same climate as Hudson Bay as we're at the same latitude, apparently, but we don't). Only if we're artificially cooling the land, that gulf stream is going to loose more heat on the way past than it should do. This would result in less ice melt at the pole, and a colder return stream (lower volume of water returned = slower flow of return = water is in a colder climate for longer = more heat loss before return). This results in a cooler planet (cold return = cooling of the equator).

Take away the pollution and the area around Northern Europe starts to warm. Ground level temperatures rise, the Gulf Stream isn't cooled as much, the polar ice starts to melt faster and the equator warms up, too.

Now we don't know how long it will take for everything to regain balance. We don't know exactly how much heating/cooling was taking place other than some ground temperature measurements from before and after the clean air act. We don't know how other factors come into the changes we see. What we do know is that we've had an impact on the environment, and on the climate, and we continue to have an impact. But that does not mean that CO2 is the biggie: It's quite possible it is insignificant compared to other things we've done. Like deforestation, land clearances, forced crop production, irrigation, canal systems and artificial lakes. Each and every one of these things has an impact. We just don't know how much. Tally it all up and yes, we've changed the climate, but by what degree we don't know.

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Re: wine, shwine

"It is *theorized* that this is the case: It is not proven."

He didn't say it was. He said "Part of this warming (probably more than half) is down to human-induced CO2 increases"

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Anonymous Coward

Esper - Another Arrogant Boffin Malcontent

"His research has been part of the Hockey stick controversy with his temperature reconstructions, that have been cited as being evidence for both sides of the controversy."

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There are currently vineyards in fife, Scottish (grape) wine is planned to be on the shelves in 2014. Yorkshire has been producing wine for a few years. Sweden & Denmark also have vineyards & have been producing wine. In 2001 Denamrk produced 20 hectolitres, last year 546 hectolitres. (hectolitre = 100 litres)

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Pint

Re: vineyards and ice fairs

Stuart21551,

Maybe someone with access to a good computer and who is competent in Fluid Mecanics could do some simulations.

The information would settle the argument about the freezing of the river.

It was a long time ago that I did anything in that field. When it was called Hydraulics.

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Re: Did Lewis read the same paper?

It's odd how he took the same line as the Faily Wail. The Register must be at least as good as the worst science reporting in the UK. Congratulations, Lewsi. And they said it couldn't be done - you keep proving them wrong.

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Re: @Ooloons @ Posted Tuesday 10th July 2012 13:26 GMT

Only deniers (yes, you) deploy the C, for catastrophic, in CAGW. You went for the balanced view and came out unbalanced. Well done.

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Headmaster

The only non-scientific evidence I can offer is from my Latin A-level. The Roman soldiers would complain all the time about how cold, wet and miserable it was being in Britannia.

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FAIL

Britain's biggest issues...

I think that the Brits biggest woes with temperature increase are the storms that will ensue, hurricanes that create a deluge between the UK & Europe. The current thought is that flooding throughout the low-lying Southern areas including London will produce havoc not to forget other quite vulnerable places within that funnel-shaped area. The funnelling is the problem, pushing a large mass of sea into an increasingly smaller space. Depending on the size of the storm it could be devastating. Anyway, not my problem in Australia...

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I can't hear you! (fingers in ears) La la la la la la la...

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RPF

Hea(r)t-warming

See title.

Funny how the eco-mentalists like to discount the heating effects of the fusion of millions of tons of hydrogen every second......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hea(r)t-warming

do you even know what the greenhouse effect is?

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FAIL

Re: Hea(r)t-warming

Of all the dumb things that denialists say, this is by far the dumbest. Are you seriously suggesting that CLIMATE scientists don't take into account variations in solar activity? Seriously, that's your position?

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Solar Activity

Yep, climate scientists who believe in AGW do not take into account solar activity. They ignore solar cycles and sunspots and put everything down to the tiny amount of extra CO2 in the atmosphere put out by man.

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