Claim: Danish Researchers Debunk Greenland Climate Myth

Norse Settlers Adapted To Cold Conditions

norsechurchHvalsey Church (Danish: Hvalsø Kirke) was a church in the abandoned Greenlandic Norse settlement of Hvalsey (now modern-day Qaqortoq). The best preserved Norse ruins in Greenland, the Church was also the location of the last written record of the Greenlandic Norse, a wedding in September 1408.

A new comprehensive Danish research project has debunked the myth that Norse settlers were forced to abandon Greenland because of the adverse climate conditions. The research by Christian Koch Madsen, a PhD student at the National Museum of Denmark, showed that the Norsemen actually stayed on the island for as much as 200 years longer, despite living in a hostile environment that continued to get colder.

“The stories we’ve heard until now – about the Vikings leaving because the climate worsened – are simply not correct,”

Koch told the science website

“They actually stayed there a long time and were far better at acclimatising that we previously believed.”

–Christian Wenande, The Copenhagen Post, 16 March 2015

h/t to The GWPF

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Gerald Machnee
March 18, 2015 10:03 am

“It continued to get colder”, so it was warmer before they left.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Gerald Machnee
March 18, 2015 10:14 am

Yes. The title to this post implies that AGW is correct. Perhaps, to attract warmist readers to WUWT?… which would be a good thing…. 🙂
The “myth” was NOT that the climate did not cool. It was warmer. And Jimbo and lots of us can come up with TONS of evidence to cite for any trolls who come along, heh.
It is just that those sturdy Vikings managed to stick it out longer than had been thought.
A favorite Norse saying:

Heroism consists in hanging on

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 12:37 pm

The “myth” they are supposed to be “debunking” is the “myth” of the medieval warm period , geddit ?

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 12:38 pm

This claim has been made before the PHD student in Denmark chimed in. I have learned that on the east coast of Greenland the last population died out in the 1800s. It looks like multiple factors lead to their demise.

Medieval Climatic Optimum
Dr. Michael E Mann – University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
…….Some of the most dramatic evidence for Medieval warmth has been argued to come from Iceland and Greenland (see Ogilvie, 1991). In Greenland, the Norse settlers, arriving around AD 1000, maintained a settlement, raising dairy cattle and sheep. Greenland existed, in effect, as a thriving European colony for several centuries. While a deteriorating climate and the onset of the Little Ice Age are broadly blamed for the demise of these settlements around AD 1400,…..

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 1:02 pm

Dear Mike,
Just to clarify your comment for anyone potentially confused by it (and by mine above, lol):
The authors of the above article assert that the myth is: that the Vikings left as soon as it began to cool. The authors do not deny the Medieval Warm Period by what they write, their article supports it: “the Norsemen actually stayed on the island for as much as 200 years longer, despite living in a hostile environment that continued to get colder.”
An-thony’s title implies that what is being debunked by the authors is the existence of the MWP (labeled a “myth” by the AGWers).
Again: the above article clearly supports that there was a warm period.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 1:19 pm

I’m a troll, fol-de-rol….in search of Goat curry !! #(:))

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 2:44 pm

So, you’re a girl, too! (that is a hair bow I’m wearing in MY (just kidding) signature smiley, you know)
Hm. Maybe your # is just crazy hair? Well, anyway. Thanks for the laugh.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 10:00 pm

Fundamentally, we’re all female, “males” are mutants and disposable. Why do males need nipples anyway? We don’t!

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 19, 2015 12:37 am

Patrick, with no males, science, engineering, art, music and civilisation in general would go backward 😉

Reply to  Gerald Machnee
March 18, 2015 12:26 pm

Koch… you see it’s a Koch publication … LOL

Reply to  Gerald Machnee
March 18, 2015 12:31 pm

When ever I see something that includes the words “debunk” and “myth” I know it’s agenda driven and turn off, whichever way the arguments go.

Reply to  Mike
March 18, 2015 1:05 pm

so…if you read an article that dealt with debunking the myth that europeans thought the world was flat, when in reality, the quasi-spherical nature of the earth had been known since the ancient greeks, you would feel that the article was agenda driven?

Sun Spot
Reply to  Mike
March 18, 2015 3:35 pm

@davideisenstadt “an article that dealt with debunking the myth that europeans thought the world was flat”, Yes yes yes I think such an article would have to be agenda driven because the Europeans really did think the earth was flat it was the consensus, that’s what they really thought it’s not a myth!

Janice Moore
Reply to  Mike
March 18, 2015 4:23 pm

I just want you to know that at least ONE reader got what you meant. You meant “educated” Europeans by “Europeans.” I tell you… if there is ANY possible opening for a reader to misunderstand one’s writing, he or she will take it. Almost like they will LOOK for them on purpose to be perverse… well, not going to assume that here.

Robert B
Reply to  Mike
March 18, 2015 5:47 pm

Sunspot – Even the children’s encyclopedias tell you that it was a myth. It was number two on the American Historical Society’s most persistent myths in the late 40s. A researcher went through all 10 000 pieces of writing by the RC up until Columbus and found only a few where the author might have thought that the world was flat, all before the medieval period. Why are you trying to reinforce such an obvious myth on a sceptic blog? People, correctly, tried to convince Columbus that the Indies were too far away to reach by sailing. He would run out of food and water, not fall off the edge.

Reply to  Mike
March 18, 2015 9:54 pm

I think if you search you will find that the Europeans DID believe the world was round but they had the radius entirely wrong. Or so I read.

Reply to  Mike
March 19, 2015 12:12 pm

Wayne Delbeke ,
The Europeans had the circumference correct. What Columbus was postulating, based on the record of Norse and Celtic explores, was that the earth was not spherical, but rather “pear” shaped. His error was in assuming that the explorers had encountered Asia. He did find and basically were he thought it would be. It just was not Asia.

Reply to  Mike
March 21, 2015 6:46 am

Wayne is correct. The earth was known to be spherical as early as 800 BC because of the observations of ancient mariners, Greeks and Phoenicians. The first and only ancient attempt at measurement was by Eratosthenes in 240 BC measuring shadow lengths at different latitudes. Subsequent scholars over the next three centuries to Claudius Ptolemy continued rounding down the size of the earth from Eratosthenes calculations.
However, with the fall of the Roman Empire and the loss of Egypt, most of the Greek astronomers’ writings were lost. Only Ptolemy a Roman survived into the European Middle Ages. And his world was much smaller than that of Eratosthenes.
Columbus was a well educated man and well familiar with Ptolemy’s Geographia. Quite literally he and everyone else expected to find Serica (China) not too far over the horizon from Europe because there was just no room for anything else. The result was nearly 30 years of absolute chaos among European geographers until Magellan’s voyage confirmed the diameter of the planet.
The earth being a sphere was evidenced just about every night by simple observation of the moon and as noted at the top well established in ancient times. The geocentric universe was conclusively proved by Galileo and his observations of the phases of Venus.
What Columbus’ experiences show is the strength of confirmation bias and the shattering effect when the orthodoxy is demolished.

Reply to  Mike
March 21, 2015 8:08 pm

that and the dust he could see from the west off the newly colonized islands off the coast of Africa.

Reply to  Gerald Machnee
March 18, 2015 1:03 pm

An 1817 book notes that an expedition in that year to examine the melting arctic was the first to reach the west coast of Greenland for 400 Years
That fits in very well wth the last wedding and that the bishop and supply ships stopped maling the jouney around hat time.
The definitve book on this subject is The Viking World by spink.
Not sure that the phd student has provided sufficient evidence to overturn the traditional view of the demise of the Vikings But it’s good to continue to reexamine the evidence from the era.

Reply to  Gerald Machnee
March 18, 2015 3:07 pm

An evidential site provided a more detailed analysis of the problems that occurred:
Apparently the Church helped in their demise also:
“Although the presence of the Church had originally uplifted the Greenlanders, it now became their burden. By the middle of the fourteenth century, it owned two-thirds of the island’s finest pastures, and tithes remained as onerous as ever, some of the proceeds going to the support of the Crusades half way around the world and even to fight heretics in Italy.”
And then other troubles:
“Life went sour for the Greenlanders in other ways. The number of Norwegian merchant vessels arriving in their ports, though only one or two a year in the best of times, dropped until none came at all. This meant that the islanders were cut off from the major source of iron and tools needed for the smooth running of their farms and the construction and maintenance of their boats. As the Greenlanders’ isolation from Europe grew, they found themselves victims of a steadily deteriorating environment. Their farmland, exploited to the full, had lost fertility. Erosion followed severe reductions in ground cover. The cutting of dwarf willows and alders for fuel and for the production of charcoal to use in the smelting of bog iron, which yielded soft, inferior metal, deprived the soil of its anchor of roots. When the Norsemen arrived in Greenland, they had the island and its waters to themselves. Now they had to contend with the Inuit, who were competing with them for animal resources. This was especially true in the Nordseta, the Greenlanders’ traditional summer hunting grounds 240 miles north of the Eastern Settlement. For years the Norsemen had been traveling to the area; they killed the walruses, narwahls, and polar bears they needed for trade with Europe and for payment of Church tithes and royal taxes. They also boiled seal blubber, filled skin bags with the oil, and gathered valuable driftwood. Thomas McGovern of New York’s Hunter College, who has participated in excavations in Greenland, has proposed that the Norsemen lost the ability to adapt to changing conditions. He sees them as the victims of hidebound thinking and of a hierarchical society dominated by the Church and the biggest land owners. In their reluctance to see themselves as anything but Europeans, the Greenlanders failed to adopt the kind of apparel that the Inuit employed as protection against the cold and damp or to borrow any of the Eskimo hunting gear. They ignored the toggle harpoon, which would have allowed them to catch seals through holes in the ice in winter when food was scarce, and they seem not even to have bothered with fishhooks, which they could have fashioned easily from bone, as did the Inuit. Instead, the Norsemen remained wedded to their farms and to the raising of sheep, goats, and cattle in the face of ever worsening conditions that must have made maintaining their herds next to impossible.”
There is evidence of a slow demise:
“Not everyone would have left; some must have stayed on their homesteads, unable to give up old attachments and resolved to wait out their fate. One such stoic was found lying face down on the beach of a fjord in the 1540s by a party of Icelandic seafarers, who like so many sailors before them had been blown off course on their passage to Iceland and wound up in Greenland. The only Norseman they would come across during their stay, he died where he had fallen, dressed in a hood, homespun woolens and seal skins. Nearby lay his knife, “bent and much worn and eaten away.”

Reply to  BFL
March 18, 2015 3:19 pm

This would also imply that even though tenacious, they were not very bright, as even most of the people during the dust bowl knew when to move on (eventually).

Reply to  BFL
March 18, 2015 3:48 pm

Thanks for the link, they have interesting accounts regarding local climates, always changing, and of adaptation to changes, or not.

Robert B
Reply to  BFL
March 18, 2015 6:24 pm

“One such stoic was found lying face down on the beach of a fjord in the 1540s by a party of Icelandic seafarers,”
1408+200 is only 2 generations more. Not really a new discovery but it still gets painted as debunking a myth.

Reply to  BFL
March 19, 2015 10:00 am

I’ve read this guy’s stuff, and am fairly certain he was never a teenagers out to sea. He has a feeble opinion of what sorts of things sailors of capable of.
Most ideas about the doings of Vikings in the west are guesswork. Here are some bits of trivia that really make me wonder.
There are two male graves for every female grave in Greenland. Among explanations is the idea Greenland was northern outpost visited by many sailors, and other ports we don’t know about existed to the south. Walrus ivory would have kept it profitable long after farming failed.
There is only a single example of a viking trading ship, called a “knarr”, that we now have to look at, but apparently knarr were of various sorts. Among others, one was called a “Greenland knarr” and another a “Vineland knarr”. Why call a ship a “Vineland knarr” if there were not places in Vinland to trade with?
As the taxes of both the Pope and the King of Norway became increasingly odious, sailors far away increasingly would be tempted to smuggle, and very secretive about trade to the southwest.
The Greenland port would have become less valuable as elephant ivory replaced walrus ivory, in Europe.
One way for sailors to make money was to swoop down on a seaside settlement, capture all the people, and sell them as slaves in the Mediterranean. There were over a million white slaves around the Mediterranean at the time the Greenland settlement vanished. (In some ways life might have been better as a slave in a warm climate than as a free man in Greenland.) Right at the same time two Italians, Columbus and Cabot, became very interested in sailing to lands across the Atlantic, and both set sail in the 1490’s. Hmm. I wonder if a bunch of Viking slaves spread news of ports to the west, across the Atlantic.
The corpse mentioned above may have been a Greenland Viking who escaped capture, who saw all his friends and family be carted off and sailed away as slaves, who was left all alone in an empty town, to quietly go mad.
The way to add some flesh to the bones of such wild surmising is to send me a large amount of money to head north to look for evidence Viking ports in Labrador. The land up there has risen so much over the past 500 years that the evidence of ports would be inland, likely buried in scrub. This going to take a lot of money, and lots of young, (nubile, blond) helpers, so please be generous.

Reply to  BFL
March 19, 2015 10:05 am

After reading that, I think you make a good case. I’m immediately forwarding you 50,000 quatloos to finance your expedition.

Jason Calley
Reply to  BFL
March 19, 2015 12:09 pm

Here is an interesting book dealing with pre-Norse and Norse in the far North Atlantic and in North America.
Pre-Norse? Yes, even the Norse sagas mention abandoned farms and houses on Greenland when they arrived there. Perhaps there were settlements there during the Roman Warm Period or before.
Scholarly opinions on this book vary widely (“It’s trash!” “No! It’s brilliant!”) Personally, I liked it.

Reply to  BFL
March 19, 2015 12:23 pm

It is best to take anything Thomas McGovern says cum grano salis. His lefty world view colors everything he writes.

Reply to  Gerald Machnee
March 19, 2015 11:52 am

So by twisting around words and definitions they are trying to say that cold climates do not cause hardship for societies. Got it. I was worried for a second that the climate cult was actually conducting real science. What a relief to see that they still have the logic of a dung heap.
They start by claiming that the LIA started around 1200 when it actually started right around the year 1400, exactly when the Norse left. They claim, the climate began to get colder around 1200 but the Norse stayed for 200 years. Well, when your starting point is at a climate optimum and then it cools, it doesn’t mean that it is cold. They fail to mention that the Greenland temperature reconstruction shows essentially the same average temperature for 1200 as it does 1000, when the Vikings arrived, but the temperature had dropped from a peak at around 1100 to 1000. So they choose to use this data to molest scientific reasoning into saying that cooling climate conditions weren’t a factor in these settlements being abandoned.

March 18, 2015 10:04 am

Maybe they just went to Holiday in the Med… and didn’t go back.

Reply to  Slywolfe
March 18, 2015 12:42 pm

Why would they go to the Med ? Just look at the beautiful, clear blue tropical seas they have up there. LOL

Reply to  Mike
March 19, 2015 12:07 pm


March 18, 2015 10:09 am

Koch speculates that the Norsemen ended up finally departing Greenland for good because of a dwindling demand for walrus tusk combined with fewer Scandinavian merchants sailing the Greenland route, which was becoming more arduous due to the increased presence of ice.

So they left because of the cold?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Slywolfe
March 18, 2015 11:02 am


Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 12:20 pm

+1 Priceless!

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 4:44 pm


March 18, 2015 10:09 am

“The stories we’ve heard until now – about the Vikings leaving because the climate worsened – are simply not correct”

Okay. So why aren’t the descendants of those Viking colonies still to be found living in Greenland?
Did they assimilate entirely into the Inuit population?

Reply to  Tucci78
March 18, 2015 11:02 am

If I recall they were assimilated, in every sense of the word.

Reply to  hunter
March 19, 2015 10:47 am

They became part of the Bjorg.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Tucci78
March 18, 2015 3:09 pm

No they left before they died.

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
March 18, 2015 7:07 pm

I would suppose they would struggle to leave after they died ?

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
March 18, 2015 10:05 pm

Blue eyes among Native Americans were observed in the upper Midwest during the early 18-hundreds.

Jason Calley
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
March 19, 2015 12:13 pm

Yes, hard to imagine a sea faring culture sticking around to freeze and starve when they could get in a boat and go elsewhere. The good land in Europe was mostly all taken. There is speculation that the bulk of the Western Greenland settlements headed to North America during the 14th Century, perhaps via Hudson Bay.

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
March 21, 2015 6:58 am

Not really, Jason. There was no timber on Greenland during the Viking settlements. Anything they built had to be imported. And the contact with Europe had been almost completely cut off in the mid-1300s because of the Black Death. So it was not as easy as you suppose that the Greenlanders could simply go elsewhere.
No, the good land in Europe was not all taken. At that time, much of the best land was lying idle, again because of the Black Death. And also these were Norse. Just where in Europe are they supposed to go? Not Scandinavia. These people are mostly rebels against the existing clan and monarchical structures. That’s why they went to Iceland and Greenland in the first place. So they did what most people do: they toughed it out and hoped things would get better.
They didn’t. Even Iceland which survived, lost about 90 per cent of its population during the 14th century. Deepening cold, volcanic eruptions ruining agricultural land and the dwindling of its trade with Europe from the Black Death all contributed to this. Iceland had trade contacts which Greenland did not, so it’s not at all surprising that the small Greenland settlement simply disappeared.

March 18, 2015 10:11 am

Usual suspects screaming that the Danish researchers are shills for “Big Oil” in 5, 4, 3 . . . .

March 18, 2015 10:14 am

Full article says the Norse switched from farming to trapping in response to the colder weather, and speculates that a diminished demand for walrus tusk, plus fewer merchants daring the increasingly icy northern waters, is what made them leave “at least a century after it started to get colder.”
So I’m not sure what “myth” is being “debunked”.

Janice Moore
Reply to  mellyrn
March 18, 2015 10:16 am

lol, those Scandinavians are VERY proud of their resilience and perseverance in the face of difficulty — to THEM, it was a blot on their name to be thought (the myth) to have LEFT when it got a little cold! (smile — but, serious, too)

Reply to  mellyrn
March 18, 2015 10:23 am

The myth that they left once grains could no longer be grown?

Janice Moore
Reply to  rah
March 18, 2015 10:28 am

Sounds like it. Nice way to state it. Take care out on the road, O patriotic rah.

March 18, 2015 10:14 am

Seems to make sense. If you’re travelled that distance and set up a homestead you’ll probably try to tough it out for as long as you can. You’ll hope/pray for better weather next season, and at the same time prepare for worse conditions.

March 18, 2015 10:15 am

I see…..they didn’t leave because of the cold….they just died out because of the cold

Janice Moore
Reply to  Latitude
March 18, 2015 10:17 am

lololololol (stubborn ol’ Norwegians 🙂

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 11:44 am

LOL…well if they left 200 years later…..they still left because of the cold……1600 was the bottom of the LIA, when it was the coldest

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 12:05 pm

I will say we don’t give up easily. Yours is probably the most accurate take on this issue 🙂

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 1:11 pm

Hi, Gyan1,
(smile) I know many Americans of Norwegian heritage and admire them highly. “Stubborn” would be better put: tenacious, rather, TENACIOUS. You are blessed to share (if I’m not mistaken) that fine genetic heritage. And the Norwegians (in Washington State) I’ve known are very proud of their heritage. They are also very (of course, very) patriotic and loyal to American, too. Lol, it IS genetic, I have no doubt. I am only 1/16th Norwegian and here I am, being sure to tell you… . 🙂
Take care,

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 6:01 pm

Y’all need to watch “Eric The Viking” to get a full understanding of Ragnarok. (spelling?)

Reply to  Latitude
March 18, 2015 10:37 am

Pretty sure that they simply intermarried with the Greenland Inuit and vanished as a separate culture. The Inuit were already following a similar hunting based economy when the Vikings first arrived.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 10:43 am

The Vikings were in southern Greenland before the Inuit. The Inuit were spreading east over the top of Canada as the Viking spread west from Iceland. I’m fairly certain most of the pre-Viking “Dorset” culture died out in Greenland, during a cold period between the Roman Climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period. The Dorset peoples over in Canada were either wiped out by or absorbed into the Inuit Culture.
There is some read-between-the-lines evidence in the Sagas hinting Eric the Red may have had some contract with unknown people when he first arrived, but they might actually have been Irish. It’s difficult to tell if the Sagas are speaking of ancient ruins Eric discovered, or a site Eric the Red made ruins out of.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 3:15 pm

The discussion in the sagas is definitely problematic. There is solid evidence of contact between the Inuit and the Dorset cultures. In fact both Inuit folk lore and archaeology seem to indicate that the Thule culture acquired many hunting practices (e.g. hunting seals at breathing holes) from the Dorset. There is no evidence of intermarriage apparently and the late Dorset are described as an odd lot. Also the available dates seem to put the end of the Dorset about two or three centuries before the Vikings arrived, but … The big problem with archaeology is the same we have in geology – sample size. Of all the dates tossed around, the arrival of the Vikings in Greenland is the only solid one. The arrival of Thule and the end of Dorset are both estimates and they aren’t all that far apart in time. More importantly the Inuit have traditions that support contact with Dorset. I think that rather than being extinct, the Dorset were thin on the ground and the terminal dates from excavated sites have some error. The assertion by the Vikings that they encountered people in Greenland and Eastern Canada suggests that one or both of the estimated archaeological dates is wrong.
Another important point is that the Inuit, moving southward definitely arrived in Southern Greenland by about 1200 CE. That indicates an historical overlap of about 300 years before the Norse “failure.” So I will stand by the suggestion that the Norse adapted by acculturation and intermarriage.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 6:53 pm

Thanks for the interesting discussion, Duster. One important thing you point out is that we are not talking about a brief episode in time. The Vikings were bopping about Greenland for over 400 years. The USA has only existed a little more than half as long, and even the Pilgrims only landed here 395 years ago.
There were only around 100 Pilgrims that survived the first winter, but now there are somewhere around 20 million Americans who have at least one Pilgrim in their family tree. They are of every race. They have been all over the globe.
In the same manner, if you took 400 years of Greenland Viking history, and drew a line tracing the travels of each Viking born in Greenland, and the travels of their children born outside of Greenland, and their grandchildren, and so on, you might be amazed. Some may have stayed home. Some may have wandered down to North America. Some may have retreated back to Europe.
The cool thing about this is that nearly all of our theories about what happened to the Greenland Vikings may be correct. (There are likely a few we could risk dismissing, involving UFO’s). Therefore we all deserve large grants allowing us to continue our research. (I’ll peer-review your papers if you’ll peer-review mine.)

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 7:14 pm

Oh, and one more comment regarding “evidence of intermarriage.”
A lot of such “evidence” involves DNA evidence from old bones, but there seems to be some sort of problem involved. Over and over I see the DNA specialists can find no DNA evidence that people who lived among each other for decades or even centuries ever “mingled”.
My own observations of human nature has noted teens definitely do “mingle”, even when fathers tell daughters they will be disowned if they dare. Opposites attract, and, even as the shooting is going on, young Hatfield’s “mingle” with young McKoy’s.
I am sure DNA researchers are doing their best, but when they find no “evidence” that the Thule “mingled” with the Dorset, it doesn’t mean no such “mingling” occurred.
Not that genes can’t teach us. One of my brothers was diagnosed as being a “carrier” of a rare genetic disorder that can be traced back to beginnings among the people of Newfoundland. Despite the fact my grandfather researched our family tree as much as he possibly could, before my brother was diagnosed we had no idea any forefathers ever lived in Newfoundland.

Reply to  Latitude
March 18, 2015 10:55 am

It sounds like a distinction without a difference. Whether you leave or die, you’re still gone.

Reply to  Latitude
March 18, 2015 2:07 pm

They left because of the lack of lukefisch.

Reply to  emsnews
March 18, 2015 7:26 pm

Lutefisk isn’t Norwegian. Only Minnesotans would ever be that silly!

March 18, 2015 10:17 am

Lets see, it has been long known that the inscription in the church, about the wedding in 1408, was the last written record. If we are to believe they continued for 200 years, was it too cold for them to build or write? If it was, then they really did not adapt. The article also has a relatively large period of time for the ultimate demise of the colony 1400-1500. I am guessing that 1400 was a safe bet since they had an inscription from 1408. I missed my calling, I should have been an academic and get funded to make vague claims that never have to be proven or better yet… I just keep receiving more and more funding to further elaborate on my vague claim.

Janice Moore
Reply to  brian
March 18, 2015 10:20 am

If you are in any profession that requires sharp insight and keen intelligence (and the willingness to speak up about it!), then, you most certainly did not miss your calling. Nice detective work!

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 10:37 am

I was actually disappointed, I was hoping that they would have presented new information to support their claims. Personally, I find it hard to believe they completely abandoned the settlement around 1450, I vaguely remember 40 years after the wedding as being the time period. Someone else on this board put forward an interesting claim, they went all that way to let a little cold weather turn them around. More importantly, how many would not be able to financially uproot themselves and move on. Certainly some had to have perservered long after 1450.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 12:25 pm

“Certainly some had to have perservered long after 1450.”
There’s always the crazy hermit dude who lives on for another 50 years… Vague claim verified!

Reply to  brian
March 18, 2015 10:57 am

…”If we are to believe they continued for 200 years, was it too cold for them to build or write? If it was, then they really did not adapt. “…
You don’t seem to understand the meaning of “adapt.” They adapted by simplifying, discarding inessential practices – you can’t farm any more? Quit trying to farm and intensify on hunting and whaling like those Skraling neighbors. Can’t make bread any more? Eat more whale blubber for calories. Just avoid polar bear liver – it will kill you. Your house persists in blowing away? No wood for new houses or boats. Go underground like those neighbors. Shift to skin boats that require less wood. The likely result over time is that they assimilate with the local Inuit who know how to handle that kind of climate in style.
Writing is not critical to a small culture that can persist through oral learning. Well into the 19th century a large portion of the cultures on the planet did not use and did not need writing. Continuity of useful experience required everyday is critical. Archaeologically you see this in the widespread persistence of “traditional cultures” over very long time spans. They did not write because it was unecessary, not because they were “too primitive” or too dull to invent it. Learning to write could potentially become time wasted, if it does not directly contribute to the culture’s survival.

Jake J
Reply to  Duster
March 18, 2015 12:50 pm

I find it tough to believe that a people who knew how to write would stop doing it.

Ian W
Reply to  Duster
March 18, 2015 1:20 pm

Jake J
March 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm

I find it tough to believe that a people who knew how to write would stop doing it.

You obviously have not visited a high school recently.

Reply to  Duster
March 18, 2015 2:02 pm

Jake J: I call your attention to the dark ages after the collapse of Bronze Age cultures following the Minoan Climate Optimum. Writing was lost in Greece; when it came back into use several centuries later, an alphabet derived from the Phoenician abjad was used instead of the old Linear B syllabary.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 11:17 am

It is likely that only a portion of the population was literate, probably the clergy. The clergy would also be the most likely to have the means (tithed from the populace) to leave, and somewhere to live once they returned to Europe. For the commoners, a hard-scrabble existence in Greenland could be more attractive than serfdom/indentured servitude in Europe.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 12:36 pm

The abundance of Norse graffiti would tend to disprove your assertion.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 3:37 pm

You might find it hard to believe that people could discard reading, but consider that literacy was limited in the US during the 19th Century. To this day there are literacy campaigns continuously active in the US. In other words you cannot, even now convince everyone that it is a necessity to read. More to the point though, Arctic survival doesn’t require literacy. It requires practical knowledge which is not all found in books. Heck, look into the revival of the Saturn rocket program sometime. They had to drag enmgineers out of retirement because rockets built to the design specifications did not perform as well as the early examples that put us on the moon. It turned out that even in literate society among highly literate professions like “rocket science,” oral knowledge had accumulated that was critical to the performance of the rockets. Also, if you look at the regions and reasons that writing has appeared, it generally is tied to government needs for records and propaganda, and to some secondary degree to religious uses.
Back in 15th C Greenland, people in every day life did not need to read. What they did need was to know how to harpoon a seal, kill a polar bear, handle a dog team, and survive blizzard without metal tools. Every hour spent learning to read was an hour that could be vastly better spent getting better at arctic survival. Don’t mistake me here. I like to read, and don’t plan to stop until they carry me off in the sable parallelepiped.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 7:33 pm

The problem with writing is that it tends to rot away. Only writing on tablets of baked clay or stone resists rot.
One thing that has always frustrated me is that the pandemic that wiped out the natives of New England may have wiped out 95% of the population. Even if they had records inked onto birch bark, when a pandemic is that severe the librarians are unlikely to survive, and if they do survive they may be too traumatized and too busy surviving to tend to their old job as librarian.
Also victorious armies have a bad habit of burning the libraries of people they have overwhelmed.
Even iron objects can rust away fairly swiftly, especially when exposed to salt water.
Copper fares better, but in colonial New England any copper object of Norse origin would have been melted down and reused. Those old Yankees were too pragmatic to allow a useful piece of metal to sit about gathering dust, and were too busy making history to care much about the history they erased.
A silver Viking “penny” was found in a heap of clam shells on the coast of Maine, but I’m always amazed how archaeologists do back-flips to state this proves nothing. They have such a deep fear of jumping to conclusions that they will not dare conclude a Viking “penny” in Maine proves Vikings were within a thousand miles.

Reply to  Duster
March 19, 2015 7:44 pm

Last week I had a cousin pass away, and he made his living taking the writing of solid, excellent engineers, and turning it from a sort of incoherent gibberish into English which people who read English, including fellow engineers, could understand. (He worked for a company that made jet engines).
As a writer, I confess I got poor grades on any sort of science involving math. Most scientists confess they were not all that fond of English classes.
You are correct to state “writing is not critical.” However communication is critical.

March 18, 2015 10:18 am

The Greenlanders lived a much better life than most historians after 1780 have understood. Some of the sources mentioned below in this link Greenland History from Leif Eriksson to Ivar Bardson I found in dissertations up to 1780.
In an archive here in Sweden I also found a singel note mentioning a “nödfart” / “rescue mission” in 1435 from Eastern Settlement over to mainland. Apart from other information.
For those who are interested in climate discussion please read: Garden under Sandet – a Greenland farm rising from 670 years permafrost

Janice Moore
Reply to  norah4you
March 18, 2015 10:26 am

Thank you, dear Scandinavian researcher, for sharing all that great information.
Take care, over there,
Well, I’m just commenting all over the place, here … . I’ll go do something else, now.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 12:07 pm

I have a lot more to tell. I do know exactly where the Norwegian/Danish Greenlanders resp. the Swedish settled and when.
The most intriguing information I had from an English researcher/author/historian who sent me information he found in Elizabeth I:s archive. Apart from that I myself in the documents written by the first English Governor in North America found some information that will thru almost everything around.
One thing I can tell you here and now is that one lines starts with: The Swedes were here before the English and the Dutch….. but that’s more and part of that Terry J. Deveau NEARA, Sue and others been discussing some years.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 1:23 pm

Good for you. I hope that you have some people of your calibre and of like mind with whom you can discuss things over there. You are a Swedish national treasure in one person!

Reply to  norah4you
March 18, 2015 4:09 pm

Garden under Sandet – a Greenland farm rising from 670 years permafrost, is at

Cold in Wisconsin
March 18, 2015 10:18 am

A couple of hundred years is generations of people “toughing it out.” Some were born there and didn’t know anything different. Did they die out or did they emigrate back to Scandinavia?

March 18, 2015 10:20 am

It takes a lot to make a people abandon their homes. You were raised there, your parents were raised there, now you’re raising your children there—- it’s home, and it takes a lot to make you leave.
This is especially true if your ancestors arrived at the place initially because they were less than welcome back at the place they used to call “home”.

Phil Cartier
March 18, 2015 10:20 am

Hate to break it to Mr. Madsen, but all the items in his paper, or at least the press release, were publicized in a National Geographic show about 5 years ago. When they got there the climate wasn’t too bad for subsistence level farming and they found plentiful fishing in the offshore waters. By the time the last Viking left of course it was a lot colder. He left out that the sea ice got so bad they couldn’t fish and anyway the fish had moved due to the cold. And while they did adapt to a degree they simply refused to live like the Inuit lived, so even those the final settlers were catching seals, they went back to balmy Norway, bathed in the Gulfstream waters.

Reply to  Phil Cartier
March 18, 2015 10:56 am

Hi Phil
Could you please post the details of the National Geographic show. Is it on youtube or somewhere else on the net?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Transoratia
March 18, 2015 3:21 pm

Hi, Transoratia,
Well, looks like the Phil Cartier channel has gone off the air for the day… here’s a video about the Vikings in Greenland that I found and watched just now. I’ve put some brief notes below the control window below to give you a bit of an idea of the content. Hope this is of interest to you.
BBC/National Geographic Documentary (2014) — youtube

9:50 – Viking Greenland settlers were farmers.
11:30 – Population grew to about 6,000.
12:30 – Wedding recorded on December 16, 1408.
16:25 – Medieval clothing “perfectly preserved” in the permafrost.
17:20 – Forensic medicine: 1) In final years of Viking settlement, life expectancy decreased by about 2 years; 2) more middle ear diseases indicate a “dramatic decline” in living conditions; 3) middle ear disease increase means more people were vulnerable to such things as pneumonia.
19:35 – Hunting dog killed for food (this not done unless owners are starving).
20:14 – Fossilized flies indicate famine; later, cold-loving flies indicate carrion.
23:00 – GISP (Greenland Ice Sheet Project) down to 3,064 ft/bedrock in central Greenland = record of climate; around 1,000 A.D. climate was “fine;” later it grew colder.
25:00 – Deuterium (more evaporating in summer, less in winter) leaves a seasonal “signal;”
26:00 – “Medieval Warm Period” term mentioned casually, as accepted, common, knowledge, not controversial (and throughout the video, this is done).
26:30 – Oxygen isotope ratio in coastal settler’s teeth (drinking water Deuterium levels show up in enamel) confirms GISP ice core climate evidence of increasingly colder climate in last years of Viking settlement.
29:00 – Hay crop failure evidence in beetle fossils.
35:00 – Vikings turned to fishing and hunting too late (theories about why they did not adapt and do this — interesting that the Catholic Church gets almost all the blame (and it may be correct), but the possibility that the Innuit were hostile (thus, their fishing/hunting technology could not be learned) is not mentioned (I only say this because I get tired of the “noble savage” myth (heh) — many Asians today still have great hostility (often (not always, not always, I realize) just because — no rational basis) toward non-Asians, i.e., the “devil foreigner” reaction is still manifested …. could be the Innuit, were the ones who refused to “make friends.” That the Catholics have a long history of attempting to convert the people in which they find themselves (Note: per the video, the Innuit arrived (from the north) about 200 years AFTER the Vikings settled on the coast of Greenland), does NOT disprove the “Catholic Church Refuses to Let Parishioners Mix with Innuit” hypothesis, but it does cast a bit of doubt on it (and this well-known missionary history of the Roman Catholic Church was not mentioned in the video for some reason).
35:20 – Greenland Vikings ate far less seafood than Icelandic.
36:00 – Term “global cooling” used.
48:15 – SUMMARY of entire video. SKIP TO HERE FOR THE GIST. 🙂
The mystery is unsolved.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Transoratia
March 19, 2015 12:24 pm

Correction: at 23:00 on video, 3,064 meters (ooops!)
Thanks, Robert Landreth, for telling me (here: )

Reply to  Phil Cartier
March 18, 2015 10:57 am

I would have thought that they went back to Iceland which is where I thought they came from in the first place.

Reply to  Oldseadog
March 18, 2015 11:10 am


I would have thought that they went back to Iceland which is where I thought they came from in the first place.

You’ve got to look at each individual site, and you’ve got to realize that – while the little settlements back in Iceland and the northern Euro peninsula’s “knew” about Greenland and had “some” trade” out there, they were ALSO in the middle of the approaching Little Ice Age and were themselves very, very hard-pressed for food, clothing, shelter, grains, and fuel. Little “charity” was available, and was available was in open boats 2000 km’s away across stormy oceans. Even if a relief trip went – to go “look for and pick up survivors out in Greenland” what was the result going to be: “Yes, chieftain. We went away for six months during the planting and harvest and raiding seasons to look for hungry, starving Greenlanders who can’t themselves farm – who you don’t know and who have never paid you taxes – and brought back more starving hungry people for you to feed in addition to the starving hungry you already have. And look! We found some. Now feed all of us and give us some of your beer. And women. And houses. And their clothes are ragged and lice-encrusted.”
Realistically, some of the isolated settlements probably lasted longer than others. Roanoak VA failed – its survivors – if any – were never found. Jamestown was nearly killed off over one winter in “warmer” Virginia. The Mayflower colony was nearly killed off. France lost colonies in FL, as did Spain – twice.
This remote “settlement thing” was not a sure fire way of success. If a single accident happened – a fire in the barn, a fire in the boat trying to see inside to caulk the hull, a accident trying to land the boat in a storm, the loss of two cows to polar bears … any single little thing would mean that an isolated settlement would suddenly have no food or no boat. No shelter. And no way to tell anyone else until they “happened” to come buy the next spring. Heck, even a small navigation error might mean the next voyage – fully intentioned on helping them – missed. And landed someplace else.
So, if the villagers were rescued or abandoned settlement_1 to go to settlement_2 in Greenland, settlement_1 would be found emptied of everything moveable. By the living, if not future Eskimo (Intuit ?) raiders.
If settlement “died out” then all its stuff would be left in place – but everything would be stolen and would be emptied by the first raiding party to come down the coast. Same result. Bodies would have been eaten and torn off – the last to be buried might be a clue. Those dying “topside” unable to bury themselves would be torn up by animals (bears, seals, gulls, etc.) in the next few months.

Reply to  Oldseadog
March 18, 2015 12:11 pm

Right enough; the point I wanted to make was that IF they left, they would have gone to Iceland at first rather than Norway as some have suggested here.

Reply to  Oldseadog
March 19, 2015 5:51 am

Iceland has an exceptionally good medieval historical record. If the Greenlanders had gone there it would certainly have been recorded.

Joel O’Bryan
March 18, 2015 10:21 am

part of a continuing need to eliminate the MWP.
next up, “Romans left Northern England because of the food and cankles.”

George Daddis
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 18, 2015 12:54 pm

Joel, you make a great case! Have you ever tried haggis or even kidney pie – not a favorite of those of us of Roman descent!!

Ian W
Reply to  George Daddis
March 18, 2015 1:29 pm

Steak and kidney pudding in suet pastry – excellent especially when it is getting chill outside. And Haggis makes use of all the sheep and extends the meal by adding oats, eaten with turnip and washed down with whisky – what better way is there to eat!

March 18, 2015 10:30 am

So at some point Vikings stopped driving SUVs on Greenland and it then got colder?

Rud Istvan
March 18, 2015 11:03 am

It is certain that at the peak of their settlement, they had dairy cattle, sheep, and goats. That implies abundent hay. Also, archeology recently turned up barley grown locally. That they stuck it out for a while is not surprising. But they did not make it to the depths of the LIA.

Billy Liar
March 18, 2015 11:06 am

The PhD thesis can be downloaded from here:

March 18, 2015 11:24 am

Scandahoovians aren’t wussies – they ain’t gonna cut and run. They are a hearty people – rough, tough, hard to bluff, and used to unusual hardships. Just watch the Vikings program on the telly. Hey – it’s on the History Channel, you know it’s legit.

Reply to  Frodo
March 18, 2015 12:01 pm

We used to call them Scandahooligans when I was deep-sea.

Reply to  Oldseadog
March 18, 2015 4:08 pm


Ulric Lyons
March 18, 2015 11:25 am

I don’t think this is correct. Lake core proxies from Baffin Island show a very warm period from ~1195-1220, and a sharp cooling at 1375. just when Europe was warming again. See this and the following comments of mine:

March 18, 2015 11:32 am

To exist you need resources. To exist above a subsistence level you need manufactured resources. To continue above subsistence you need a healthy society and cultural continuity. Greenland has few resources, even today. So resources had to come from outside. For that you need to have something to trade and someone to trade with. You also need to make it worth someone’s trouble to come to you because you can’t go to them. And you need some way to communicate your needs and willingness. That requires you are aware, after a number of generations, that there is someone beyond the horizon to communicate with and some awareness that they have and will trade for what you require. Fact is they probably had none of this infrastructure after a very short time owing to breakage, theft, plunder, a declining population of skilled craftsmen, and no cultural continuity.

March 18, 2015 11:35 am

I don’t see any “Myth”. They stuck it out for as long as they could and then moved on because of the cold. They were a hardy lot so its no surprise.

Patrick Bols
March 18, 2015 11:40 am

any idea why it is called GREEN LAND?

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Patrick Bols
March 18, 2015 12:09 pm

Rumor has it that it was a ploy to get people to go there.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 18, 2015 12:24 pm

That’s the myth anyway.

Roy Jones
Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 18, 2015 12:33 pm

In the MWP they could farm there, so it was green.
I’ve never understood the idea that calling it “Greenland” was a trick to get settlers. If you take your family to a new settlement and the story that persuaded you to go there turns out to be a confidence trick you’re not going to be happy – and if you’re a Norseman whoever tricked you is going to end up in small pieces.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 18, 2015 2:39 pm

Real estate promotion has a long history. I’ll bet they had zero-down mortgages, too.

March 18, 2015 11:51 am

Since global warming causes there to be more ice and snow, that the globe was cooling at the end of the Viking period, indicates there would be less snow and ice…if you follow the train of thought of the warmers

Billy Liar
March 18, 2015 11:55 am

Here is the abstract of the PhD. No myth has been de-bunked; it clearly states that climatic deterioration after AD 1250 was the cause of the progressive abandonment of the settlements [my bold below].
Christian Koch Madsen (2014) Pastoral Settlement, Farming, and Hierarchy in Norse Vatnahverfi, South Greenland. University of Copenhagen, Unpublished PhD thesis. 440 pp.
Around AD 1000 two settlements were founded in Greenland by Norse hunter-farmers: the larger Eastern Settlement in South Greenland and the Western Settlement ca. 500 km north in the inner parts of the Nuuk fjord region. The Norse settlers had a two stringed economy that combined pastoral livestock farming with cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses with extensive hunting, the latter also to sustain trade in wildlife luxury exports to Europe. This economy was based on a settlement pattern of dispersed farmsteads occupying the most fertile niches of the fjords, but extending the entire range of the landscape from the Ice Sheet to outer coast, and from lowland to highland, through specialized sites and shielings. This Norse settlement system lasted for around 450 years, the Western Settlement being abandoned in the mid- to late 14th century, the Eastern Settlement a century later. In 2005, the Vatnahverfi Project was initiated, a research project under the National Museum of Denmark and coordinated by senior researcher Jette Arneborg, aimed at investigating regional level Norse settlement-, economic, and cultural patterns in a core area of the Norse Eastern Settlement: the Vatnahverfi. From 2005-2011 and in 2013, archaeological ruin group surveys were carried out in the Vatnahverfi, gradually expanding the research area to include the entire peninsula between the fjords of Igaliku Kangerlua and Alluitsup Kangerlua, an area of some 1560 km2. In these archaeological surveys, 129 Norse ruin groups – among them 18 newly discovered – and 798 individual ruins were DGPS-surveyed and uniformly documented. In 2010, a Ph.D.-scholarship was set up as part of the Northern Worlds initiative at the National Museum of Denmark to investigate this new Norse ruin group survey evidence.
The dissertation Pastoral Settlement, Farming, and Hierarchy in Norse Vatnahverfi, South Greenland concludes on these investigations and part of the Vatnahverfi-Project: the dissertation presents a detailed analysis of the Vatnahverfi survey evidence, as well as of comparative sites from elsewhere in the Eastern Settlement, a total of 1308 ruins divided on 157 ruin groups, abort one third of all the ruin groups registered in the Eastern Settlement. This evidence implies that the Vatnahverfi constituted a small community of an average ca. 225-533 people, inhabiting some 47 farmsteads and 86 shielings, some of the latter likely being small farmsteads at the peak of settlement. Most of these farmsteads seem to have been organized around eight evenly distributed larger farms or manors, the remainder probably being subsidiary farms belonging to cotters and tenants. Overall, analysis of population numbers, settlement- and land use patterns suggest a pastoral farming system heavily dependent on extensive landscape resources and intensive herding strategies.
New dates generated through the Vatnahverfi Project suggest that this community expanded in to stages: first settlement occurred just around AD 1000 in the inner and middle fjords, but only at locations near the fjords; the second state of expansion occurred around AD1050-1100, during which time the outer fjord, inland and highland areas were occupied. The new dates also suggest that settlement contraction began already from the mid-13th century AD. The contraction first involved abandonment of the outer fjord farmsteads, as well as closing down of small churches. From the late-14th century AD, shieling activities appear to have disintensified, and during the 14th century AD many farmsteads were apparently abandoned, although a few sites in primary farmlands continued into the 15th century AD.
As an explanatory model for this settlement development, the comparative case study of pre-modern Inuit farming has been used. Combined with ice core climate proxy evidence, the analysis suggests that a change towards a more intensive mode of farming was forced by climatic deterioration after AD 1250. Such a change was likely problematic for cottagers and tenants, which may have become more dependent on the large farms and manors. An analysis of food- and environmental securities within different societal strata at different times of settlement, coupled with a resilience theory perspective, suggests such deprivation in lower societal strata caused by poor access to labor and continued environmental stress could eventually have cascaded up through the system to seriously affect large farms and manors. If the Norse settlements in Greenland had one major problem, it was apparently shortage of people.

March 18, 2015 11:56 am

“…Norse settlers were forced to abandon Greenland because of the adverse climate conditions.”
“…the Norsemen actually stayed on the island for as much as 200 years longer…”
Maybe both statements are true: some split, and some hung on for another 200 years.
I wonder if there been any genetic studies of the Inuit in Greenland to look for Norwegian genes.

March 18, 2015 11:58 am

So they DID leave because of the cold, they just waited 200yrs (+-) to do it?
Is that the mythbuster here?

Jim Francisco
Reply to  jimmaine
March 18, 2015 1:07 pm

My guess is the same will apply for some CAGW folks. Some will hang on for another 200yrs(+-).

Reply to  Jim Francisco
March 18, 2015 1:12 pm

Agreed. We do still have flat earthers.

Lord Beaverbrook
March 18, 2015 12:07 pm

Oh come on, we all know that the only reason that they stayed so long during adverse conditions was the local MET office continually berating them about the increase in temperature that was in the pipe line due to AGW!
You’ll see it’ll be 4.5C warmer in a hundred years!
Huh, how many times have I heard that old chestnut

Janice Moore
Reply to  Lord Beaverbrook
March 18, 2015 2:37 pm

LOL, by jove, I think you’re right!

Mac the Knife
March 18, 2015 12:11 pm

Dang! That sure looks like a cold and lonely place to eek out a meager existence for a family….
Tough and hardy folks, Indeed!

March 18, 2015 12:21 pm

Ahhh, jingoistic, history-modifying, science-like stuff. You have to love it.

Reply to  BCBill
March 18, 2015 1:30 pm

Jingoistic?? Better than being a poor dead soul.

March 18, 2015 12:31 pm

The Vikings did not leave Greenland because of the cold but they left Greenland because it got colder and then some more

Paul Westhaver
March 18, 2015 12:38 pm

I imagine that conditions worsened imperceptibly to the point where their traditional growing, gathering and hunting and fishing methods, changed utterly. Then the conditions were such that the population could not grow due to the hardship and the amount of effort required. In a matter of a couple of generations of poor conditions one could imagine how they simply no longer were there. Or they simply morphed into the Inuit, hunting and fishing and living like nomads.
Great article in the Copenhagen Post.

Cal Weyers
March 18, 2015 12:50 pm

I have never commented before – just a lurker. I was stationed on the USCGC Westwind from 1976 to late 1977. I made two trips on this vessel to the Arctic in the summer of 1976 and again in 1977. In 1977 our ship was invited to the Danish naval base of Gronedal. As you approach the dock at Gronedal, you can see remnants of stone fences on the valley sides (overgrown with lichens & moss). They clearly marked out pastures.
When I asked one of the Danish officers at a dinner, what the fences were for, he told me that Norsemen had lived and farmed there hundreds of years prior. The fences still stand on the permafrost. The only reason to have fences is to contain livestock – which have to eat something other than moss. Therefore, it had to have been much warmer when the Norsemen lived there (strictly speaking a Viking was a raider – settlers would have been either Norwegian, Swedish, or Danish).
It was also in August of 1977 that the Soviet icebreaker Arktika sailed from Murmansk over the North pole. They sailed at an average speed of 12 knots, which means mostly in open water (this was our preferred method of travel, as it was much faster to go a mile out of the way in open water than try to break through 24 foot thick ice for 200 yards). How often has there been open water of this magnitude since?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Cal Weyers
March 18, 2015 3:34 pm

Well, Cal Weyers! #(:))
What a fine comment — rich with helpful, rationally insightful, information (with eyewitness testimony to boot). Glad you finally spoke up. I hope many others read your worthwhile comment.
How long have you been silently lurking? If for long, I highly admire your self-restraint. As you can see, I tend to talk a lot… .
Keep on posting!

Big Bob
March 18, 2015 1:08 pm

Don’t the Danes have records and articles from the 1600s to go by. 1608 wasn’t that long ago that they didn’t have written language. What were they saying back home about the folks in Greenlend?

Reply to  Big Bob
March 19, 2015 5:57 am

They thought they might still be there, but they didn’t know. There was a great effort in 1610-1620 to collect all available information about Greenland that was available on Iceland, but nothing later than 1408 was found.

March 18, 2015 1:11 pm

One might enjoy reading “Cod” and “Salt”.
Cod talks about the fishing boats coming over from Europe to fish cod in the canadian maritimes, primarily off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. You had to be able to both CATCH fish, and more importantly, PRESERVE fish in order to make it back home and get paid.
To preserve the fish you had to be able to dry them. And to dry them you needed a suitable piece of land.
It had to have just the right breezes to dry the fish without them getting moldy or going off.
Areas along the coast of Newfoundland were much prized for this essential activity, and to ensure that a captain had access to his prime drying grounds, a few crewmembers were chosen to stay behind for the winter to protect the claim.
How’d ya like to pull THAT short straw? 😉

March 18, 2015 1:15 pm

Just a few from:
The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. ~Patrick Young
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? ~J.B. Priestley
My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather. ~Terri Guillemets

Janice Moore
Reply to  u.k.(us)
March 18, 2015 2:39 pm

So sweet (and witty), U.K.. Thanks for sharing.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 3:49 pm

Umm, that wasn’t sharing, it was venting.
So, if it came out as sweet and witty I apologize.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 4:29 pm

Sorry, U.K., but you were SWEET. Bwah, ha, ha, ha, haaaaaaaa!
(don’t worry, your reputation as a curmudgeon-with-a-kind-heart-that-he-only-reveals-rarely is intact)

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 5:19 pm

Even if it were true, how do think that works out against the head choppers ?
Religion gone wild.
If it wasn’t for the women and kids, the whole area would be melted sand.
They know that.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 6:26 pm

yeah, “religion of peace” mm, hm.
Say, U.K.? Did you accidentally post that comment on the wrong thread?
Take care.

Reply to  Janice Moore
March 18, 2015 7:18 pm

You saying a shotgun and a varmint rifle might not be enough ?
Couple of Glocks might help.
Three dogs tend to get their attention, making for an easy target.
Now I need dogs.
Just playing with you, Janice.
You take care too 🙂
(It is just the world as I see it, I’m not gonna takin’ alive just to be beheaded later).
Wrong thread ?, then never mind I guess.

March 18, 2015 1:55 pm

Best book on the subject I’ve read is The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America, ca. A.D. 1000-1500 by Kirsten Seaver.

March 18, 2015 3:22 pm

This is terrifying. Anyone know at what CO2 level the hordes of Vikings will return to Greenland?

Janice Moore
Reply to  HermosaBeachBum
March 18, 2015 4:41 pm

Hey! I — don’t — know, but, I found out where the Vikings ended up!!! In show biz! (apparently they went to Great Britain first (where they learnt English:) … didn’t like the climate… went to Hollywood instead).
“Ven – tchacah” (that’s what I thought they were saying for awhile, lol) ad

Mike M
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 19, 2015 7:53 am

And they showed up in a Monty Python sketch before that:

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 19, 2015 12:14 pm

Thank you, Mike M! I needed a laugh. That explains the British accent in the Ven-tchacah ads!!
Heh. So, SPAM (or… spahced ‘am — see, they were cockneys, ya know) did ’em in, eh? lololololol

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
March 19, 2015 12:15 pm

Don’t spell out sp@m… or you will be sorry. 🙁

March 18, 2015 3:27 pm

When they can also debunk the archeology showing cattle farming during the MWP which disappears in the LIA then the global doom mongers will have something to get excited about. As it stands, they still look silly.

John Whitman
March 18, 2015 3:38 pm

Well, the irony is that the Greenland and Iceland Settlers adapted to the warm period during which they settled and when it cooled the Greenland settlers apparently may have adapted and persisted.
Adapt to warm and adapt to cold; adaption is human applied reasoning in action.

March 18, 2015 3:51 pm

interesting report on Greenland, Russia, glaciers around the world, sea level rise….. , from 1951-
” What effect is this having? Russia already has good cause to be thankful for that increase of one quarter of one per cent Navigation conditions along her northern coasts have improved considerably since the turn of the century. In 1910 most of the sea lanes were open for only three months. Now they are open eight months each year”

Ian H
March 18, 2015 4:28 pm

The research by the PhD student seems to be fine. The problem is the way the news media sensationalised and mangled it in the service of a political narrative. Look no further than the misleading heading which completely misrepresents what the student actually did.
Someone needs to put the question to the news media. Since when did it become your job to misrepresent events in service of a political narrative?

March 18, 2015 4:33 pm

Thanks, Anthony. Good post.
Norse Settlers Adapted To Cold Conditions, good for them, but it got even colder.
Cold is bad for your health.

March 18, 2015 5:55 pm

The Vikings adapted to a changing climate. Apparently, we’re on the abyss of extinction.

March 18, 2015 6:50 pm

Some people are just stubborn….

March 18, 2015 8:56 pm

Danish Researchers Debunk Greenland Climate Myth
“They [Vikings] actually stayed there [Greenland] a long time and were far better at acclimatising that we previously believed.”
Acclimatizing to Greenland meant that after about 1400 A.D. the inhabitants had to live by hunting and fishing because they could no longer harvest enough food as crops. You cannot debunk the history of European settlement in Greenland by showing that a few stragglers held on for a long time by adopting the Inuit lifestyle.
We in Canada resisted adapting to the climate right up to the 20th century. But sixty years ago, kids in Saskatchewan were using (Indian) snowshoes to get to school. In southern Canada We were using parkas by the 1940’s. During the cold interval between about 1960 and 1975 Canadians in southern Canada adopted Inuit boots (mukluks).
But it was not the parkas and mukluks and snowshoes that allowed the population of Canda to reach 30 million. Early on the settlers were able to plant and harvest crops to feed themselves.
The prehistory of northern peoples is complex precisely because climate has changed naturally on the scale of centuries. My First Nations ancestors (Mohawk and Algonquin) lived in Quebec at the time of the British conquest of Canada. Their people had a long history of migration north to south (to the USA) and back again in response to climate change.
The Iroquois in Ontario raised food in their gardens based on the same plants grown by their people on the other side of the modern border, plants that originated from much further south. The Iroquois brought those plants with them when they migrated north.
Nowadays when Canadians move south, they tend not to come back, which is why Canada imports around a quarter million immigrants per year. How much of this modern movement south –dating back to before 1900– is because of climate, we don’t know.
The economic pull is very great because: recessions hit Canada harder than the US, so that Canadian unemployment acts like a pump, sending a flow of job-seekers south.

March 18, 2015 9:06 pm

The research is not new…
I think that the point that Christian Madsen was trying to make was that the Norse populations was able to adapt to the change in climate, becoming seal hunters and fisherman rather than farmers.
However the economy reverted to subsistence levels with young women less enamoured with the impoverishment than the men and choosing to leave for areas where their prospects were better.
You can see this happening in rural areas all across eastern Europe at the moment. The girls see advertisements for homes with great bathrooms on television and contrast it with their own situation..bathing in a plastic bowl outside by the chicken coop. Not fun in winter. It’s a no-brainer ; they leave. One of eastern Europe’s main exports at the moment is women. The men finally realise that all the young women have gone and they eventually leave as well.
The same thing probably happened in Greenland.
The Norse were able to adapt to a Greenlandic [Inuit] diet but the girls didn’t like it.

March 18, 2015 10:48 pm

As I recall when I was in high school, we had to read one of Longfellow’s poems about a Norseman who fled with his wife from fellow Norsemen and landed somewhere on the shores of North America. It was titled “The Skeleton in Armor,” and I think it was inspired after someone found the ruins of some ancient tower predating the 16-hundreds.

March 19, 2015 2:34 am

Goths and the Vikings were moving south along the rivers to Ukraine. Swedes went to south during the Little Ice Age.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  ren
March 19, 2015 5:52 pm

And 1/3 of Finns died of starvation from corp failure – there wasn’t any “Aid” in those days.

Mike M
March 19, 2015 7:45 am

Yet even more evidence that the claim of there being 50 million climate refugees was just a preposterous exaggeration!

Robert Landreth
March 19, 2015 10:07 am

Janice Moore
“23:00 – GISP (Greenland Ice Sheet Project) down to 3,064 ft/bedrock in central Greenland = record of climate; around 1,000 A.D. climate was “fine;” later it grew colder.”
I went back to the video, and you made a very small error, it is meters not feet of Ice core. Essentially 2 miles of ice core. Otherwise your summation was very good.
I wonder how our modern society will learn to survive a significant cooling event like the mini-ice age. Hopefully we can learn to adapt, and pool resources, including fossil fuels.
For information my major income is from the oil industry, and it is one half of what is was just 4 months ago.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Robert Landreth
March 19, 2015 12:22 pm

Dear Mr. Landreth,
Thank you for correcting my error and thanks for the kind words. Cool! Somebody actually read what I wrote!! 🙂 (oh, I just put that in to see….. naa, I really did mess up, heh) Congratulations on making money by investing in our BEST (all around) source of energy. Goooo, internal combustion engine (for instance)!
With hopes that “half” is still enough…,
P.S. I’m going to link your correction to just below my video comment (in the slight chance that someone else will read it, heh).

March 19, 2015 1:18 pm

Climate radicals told me that the warmth on Greenland that allowed the Norse to settle and build farms and ranches for centuries wasn’t real. Then when I showed them the research, they changed tactics and claimed that the evidence of warmth there (and across Europe and Asia) during Medieval times were merely localized bubbles of warmth. They insisted that the regions around these warm bubbles were very cold. Madness.

Janice Moore
Reply to  LarryFine
March 19, 2015 4:06 pm

I believe you, Mr. Fine. ANYTHING (even drunkenly staggering about in the costume of a fool — “bubbles of cold”!!!) to avoid admitting one was WRONG (shudder). Pride is a Giant with a terribly formidable fortress. To be locked up in its dungeons for too many years is, indeed, to go mad (I think some of our poor trolls on WUWT truly have, sad to say). Love is the strongest force in the world, but, even love cannot always break into that fortress. Somewhere, deep down inside Pride’s dank, dark, caverns, sits a weak, lonely, soul. If it has not yet succumbed to the madness that makes impossible hearing what opposes its fallacy with comprehension, enough love can, sometimes, give that soul enough courage to reach out for the key to the dungeon, unlock the door, and escape. Unfortunately for so many, they will not (will not! will not! will not!), and, alas, then, CAN-not (for their prideful refusal has made their clenched fist freeze up into permanent defiance of truth), take that key, for the key is to utter (at least silently) these three words: I — was — wrong.
Good for you to try to help them, Sir Fine (great name! — you should be a brave knight in a wonderful medieval romance).
Hope this little bit of science realist camaraderie was at least a little encouraging.

Gary Pearse
March 19, 2015 4:19 pm

Probably Le Pas, Manitoba is still colder than the settleable part of Greenland got. School boys used to take off their parkas on a sunny day in February to show off how tough they were when it was still cold. Yeah, I can see the likes of the Norse hangin in there.

March 19, 2015 8:03 pm
Reply to  Caleb
March 19, 2015 8:42 pm

Before you get too excited, this is likely a spoof. However it shows you the stuff you need to sift through, when you study the Vikings.

Reply to  Caleb
March 19, 2015 8:46 pm

Proof of spoof? Well, the sword in Memphis looks suspiciously identical to this one from Scotland.

johann wundersamer
March 20, 2015 2:48 am

they died in their beds. under furs of seals und deer.
starving – not freezing.
The nödfart was sent to easthaven and found no settlements on greenlands eastcoast: ‘they must have left!’
nevermore a vessel was sent to the greenlanders.
but easthaven was on the westcoast, in a bay more inland / EAST / then SOUTHHAVEN on the southend of greenland.
all myths base on missing information.
The danish historicans DO have informations!
Regards – Hans

johann wundersamer
Reply to  johann wundersamer
March 20, 2015 3:12 am

nöt fart – Not Fahrt:
emergency exploration.

Janice Moore
March 20, 2015 10:50 am

A Tribute
We ruminate over how such tenacious, enterprising, people could just …. die out…… . We shake our heads and have a half-serious laugh or two at their expense …. .
I just feel the need to pause for a moment and remember….
these Vikings we are discussing so coolly were people
with families they loved
and farms they had worked for a long time
and hopes for a brighter tomorrow, someday.
Most of them (as the evidence such as that which Johann Wundersamer points out above indicates) starved or died of illnesses brought on by malnutrition.
Some of them may have tried to sail to warmer climes and died at sea.
But, some of them almost certainly stayed, either to guard their village or because they or a loved one were too ill to go on such a horrendously difficult journey.
Finally, it would have come down to one. One person left. Perhaps, it was a young husband whose wife who sighed out her last breath as she lay beside him in their small house. Perhaps, he used the last of his strength to carry her body to the shore where a strong current ran, placed it gently inside a small boat abandoned there, built a pyre inside, waited until the tide was high, then, lit it, giving the boat a shove into the current where it was swiftly borne out to sea…. and he was alone.
Perhaps, as he lay on the beach, sinking rapidly into that deepest sleep of all, this song from his childhood (it is a very old song) may have echoed in his half-conscious mind… .
Tryggare kan ingen vara…
“Children of the heavenly Father,
safely in His great arms gather;
nestling bird nor star in heaven
such a refuge e’er was given.”

Requiescat in pacem
Rest in peace

March 20, 2015 12:01 pm

Usually see Greenland off in the distance, but last week we flew over the tip.

March 20, 2015 12:07 pm

Forgot the photo link:

March 20, 2015 12:10 pm

WordPress is really frustrating. I am signed in for my own blog but when I try to post here wordpress makes me sign in again and the comment disappears. And then it make me sign in again.
Anyhow, I forgot the photo link, hope this works.

Reply to  Michael Snow
March 20, 2015 12:12 pm

March 20, 2015 12:15 pm
Wordpress should have a delet button for one’s own posts. Geeks are too busy trying to foul other things up.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Michael Snow
March 20, 2015 1:42 pm

Congratulations, Michael Snow (perfect). Your perseverance nicely underscores the subject of this thread.
Yeah, I agree — wish we could at least edit for even 5 minutes (I mak tons of typpos).

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