How the Irish saved climate research


Ruins of Baltinglass Abbey, County Wicklow, Ireland

We have heard about the role Irish monks played in preserving Western Civilization. Now a new article in Environmental Research Letters looks at climate records preserved by the monks for the period 431–1649 AD.

The records include remarks like this one from the Annals of Connacht for 1465:
Exceeding great frost and snow and stormy weather this year, so that no herb grew in the ground and no leaf budded on a tree until the feast of St. Brendan, but a man, if he were the stronger, would forcibly carry away the food from the priest in church, even though he had the Sacred Body in his hands and stood clothed in Mass-vestments.

The article authors find an interesting and significant (99.7% confidence level) association between such episodes of cold in Ireland and episodes of volcanism, as revealed by the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2. A creative and successful use of historical data!

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