Global Warming Caused Vikings to Become Terrorists

David Middleton

From the Climate Change Causes Everything Files:


We know Vikings as infamous raiders—was that merely a response to climate change?

Changing temps may have impacted the ability to farm, leading to new economic strategies.

K.N. SMITH – 8/6/2017

Beneath their still surfaces, the lakes of some Arctic islands may hide the story of the rise and fall of Viking chiefdom.

Historians still aren’t sure exactly what led to the centuries of Viking raiding and expansion, a period politely known as the Scandinavian Diaspora that ran from the late eighth century to the mid-11th. Population pressures and political rivalries probably played a role, but changing climate around the North Atlantic may also have given the Scandinavians a push.

So far, paleoclimate researchers have mostly focused on warmer climates in the Vikings’ destinations, like Iceland, which might have drawn people to settle there. But those who set sail may have been facing trouble with the crops back home thanks to changing temperatures. A team of researchers hope to find some answers in a new series of sediment cores from ancient lakebeds in a remote Norwegian island chain.

“There’s no doubt that there are climate changes that are occurring during that time. The questions are how much of an influence were they on the migrations and settlements at different locations, whether in Norway, Iceland, or Greenland?” said Nicholas Balascio, a paleoclimatologist at the University of William and Mary.

He and his colleagues spent the summer in the Lofoten Islands, a low-lying archipelago off the coast of Norway, well above the Arctic Circle. It’s the perfect place to study how Iron Age people responded to climate change. Lofoten is so far north that it’s on the edge of the farmable world, so small shifts in summer temperature make a notable difference in the growing season here.


Rest of story:ARS Technica

The late 8th to mid-11th centuries would be from roughly 775 to 1050 AD.  This coincides with the second half of a ~500-yr period of global warming, which culminated in the Medieval Warm Period…


Northern Hemisphere climate reconstruction (Ljungqvist, 2009) and HadCRUT4 NH.

So… If climate change caused the Vikings to turn their plowshares into swords, abandoning their farms to become terrorists… the climate change would have been of the warming variety.  I’m not a farmer, but it seems to me that global warming would have actually enhanced the Vikings’ ability to farm up around the Arctic Circle.

Back to the article:

Rise and fall of a Viking Chiefdom

In its Viking Age heyday, Borg was a center of wealth and power. Its chieftain lived in the largest Viking longhouse that’s ever been found in northern Norway, unearthed by archaeologists in the late 1980s. People caught cod by the boatload here, then dried the fish to create a highly portable, mostly non-perishable food product called stockfish. It doesn’t sound very appetizing today, but it was a major export to the coastal cities of mainland Europe—and a staple for Viking raiders and settlers.

“When the Vikings went on their various raids and travels out into the North Atlantic, they usually took with them stockfish as provisions,” said Stephen Wickler, an archaeologist at the University of Tromsø. Archaeological evidence reveals a booming trade in stockfish during the Viking age. Lofoten’s cold climate was perfect for air-drying cod without using expensive salt, and the growing demand for cheap protein-rich food would have given the chieftain of a prime fishery like Borg a lot of political and economic clout.

Yet Borg attained that wealth and power despite being almost too far north to make a living at all. The warm current of the Gulf Stream kept the islands warm enough for farming, but only barely. The people who lived in Lofoten would have grown grains—mostly barley—and raised livestock, but a slight shift in summer temperatures could spell failure for that year’s crops, forcing people to find another way to survive, move elsewhere, or starve. Because the local economy was so sensitive to small climate fluctuations, Columbia University geoscientist William D’Andrea and his colleagues think this might be the place to look for links between climate change and a shift in the islands’ Viking Age economy.

“The people who were living on Lofoten were living in the most marginal environment of all of the Viking Kingdoms throughout Scandinavia. They were living the farthest north, and they were spending a lot of time on boats because they were engaged in cod fisheries,” said D’Andrea. “I always think about the experience up there as maybe being representative of their exploration spirit. They were ready to go looking for new things, and they were ready to make a living in a marginal environment.”

But the prosperous chiefdom had basically collapsed by the early 12th century.


ARS Technica

The early 12th century would have coincided with the sudden onset of a ~500-yr period of global cooling, which culminated in the Little Ice Age.

It will be interesting to see what they conclude from their core analyses.  No doubt, they will find some way to transform the plight of the Vikings into a dire warning about capitalism being bad for the planet.

Featured Image Source: 

English: Map in english of territories and explorations of the Vikings
Français : Carte en anglais des territoires et explorations des Vikings
Date 1 February 2008
Source own work made with inkscape from Image:Vikings-Voyages.png and Image:Worldmap wdb combined.svg
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Jimmy Haigh
August 7, 2017 5:24 am

It’s time we Brits (and Viking descendants like my good self) demanded reparations from Norway for all of that rapibg and pillageing. Norway is now a very rich country – although run by Socialists these days – so we’d better get the money now before it’s all squandered.

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
August 7, 2017 5:55 am

The Norse have handled their wealth much better than Alberta. link

Reply to  commieBob
August 7, 2017 6:37 am

Some socialists are able to handle their wealth better than others.

Reply to  commieBob
August 7, 2017 7:42 am

During the last 50 years, Alberta has paid $500 billion more in taxes to the federal government than the feds have spent in Alberta due to equalization policies. This massive transfer of wealth out of Alberta was due to the socialist income redistribution policies of the federal government.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
August 7, 2017 7:23 am

Oh no you don’t. Because most of the raiding and raping was done by the Danes, try to scrounge money out of them and see what happens. Maybe you’ll get paid in worn-out windmills.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 10:33 am

Oh yes they do.
Eric Bloodaxe true name Eric Haraldsson was a 10th-century Norwegian king and a king of Northumbria.
“…aged twelve and seemingly possessed of prodigious valour and strength, embarked on a career of international piracy: four years were spent harrying the Baltic coasts and those of Denmark, Frisia and Germany (‘Saxland’); another four years those of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France; and lastly, Lappland and Bjarmaland (in what is now northern Russia)….”
Norway should pay every single ‘norwegian krone’ to the rest of Europe in lieu of reparations.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 10:48 am

vukcevic; sorry, but if you read a bit of history, you’ll find that Danes did most of the raiding, they were the majority of the Viking armies who both raided and occupied large parts of England.
You can find several single persons like Eirik Blodøks, doesn’t change the big picture.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 11:34 am

Mr. Nielsen
it’s not a good excuse, just because someone else was just as bad, btw. Eric Bloodaxe slaughtered half a dozen of his brothers, a really bad fellow, Danes don’t have any money but Norway got rich on gas and oil, so it has to pay up or take it to European Court of Justice (ECJ). Eric Bloodaxe obviously was a war criminal and war crimes are not subject to statute of limitations.
See, Brexit is pursued by a very nice lady and despite no crime is committed Brits still have to pay 40-60 billions of euros to the rest of Europe.

Michael 2
Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 8, 2017 6:50 am

Reparations (“geld”) is due the victim, or victim’s family, by the guilty person. The guilty person and the victims are long dead. No one now living is owed anything by anyone else now living based on an event a thousand years ago, except perhaps in the unusual circumstance you can find a direct descendant of who you believe is a guilty person, and you are a direct descendant of a victim, which is a bit unlikely, not just because of difficulty of establishing kinship but to avoid those very problems there sometimes were not left any kin at all.

Harald Erichsen
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
August 9, 2017 1:02 am

Norway is currently not run by socilists, but unfortunately may be so after the elections in September, resulting in even more of the meaningless policies such as providing offshore oil and gas installations with power from shore rather than generating power with gas turbines on location and subsidising electric cars. This is some of the effects of a USD 1,000 billion sovereign wealth fundand.

August 7, 2017 5:28 am

More food means more people. More people does not mean more land to farm or fish to catch. So, saddle up, youngsters. Your first born brother doesn’t share. This pattern has been seen throughout history.

Bob boder
Reply to  joel
August 7, 2017 6:13 am

The U.S. being the exception, OH Wait could be wrong there!
Maybe your simple idea does have merit, let’s go ask an expert academic type!

Reply to  Bob boder
August 7, 2017 9:08 am

America is hardly an exception. Read about famine and warfare in the Midwest prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Massive starvation and cannibalism due to drought with collapse of Indian cultures.
We moderns have been spared this cycle because of the advances in technology.

Reply to  joel
August 7, 2017 6:50 am

Made the point I was heading to, increase in population and no increase in agricultural output would lead to excess people looking for somewhere else, or at least looking for more food(other than dried fish). Trading&raiding often went hand in hand.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  2hotel9
August 7, 2017 12:07 pm

Excerpted from the posted quote in the above commentary:

Historians still aren’t sure exactly what led to the centuries of Viking raiding and expansion, a period politely known as the Scandinavian Diaspora that ran from the late eighth century to the mid-11th.

Maybe those historians should try to get a clue while figuring out ……. what exactly was it that led to the centuries of Western European (Spanish, English, French, Dutch) raiding and expansions into Central and North America from the mid-15th century to the late 18th century.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
August 7, 2017 5:07 pm

Looking for something better, its what drives everyone. Funny how educated people can’t grasp that fact. Always got to you for some other reason.

Ron Clutz(@ronaldrc)
Reply to  joel
August 7, 2017 7:43 am

Right on Joel. Case in point was Eric the Red. He was banished from Iceland as an upstart and discovered Greenland. Later on, he was pushed out of there and showed up in Newfoundland.

Ron Clutz(@ronaldrc)
Reply to  Ron Clutz
August 7, 2017 7:44 am
Reply to  Ron Clutz
August 7, 2017 10:05 am

Aha! Red = too much sun = global warming. Obvious, isn’t it.

Reply to  Ron Clutz
August 8, 2017 9:13 pm

Eric the Red was a Norse of another colour.

Reply to  joel
August 7, 2017 9:10 am

Spot on, Joel : Without surplus manpower there can be no migration, of course. The mild weather, both winter and summer, was so beneficial that plenty of young, strong boys survived to go seek their luck elsewhere. I went to school in Denmark as a child – that’s how we thought of it, I remember

Reply to  AndyE
August 7, 2017 10:58 am

I do not think that is entirely accurate, AndyE. It takes 1-3 square miles of territory per person to support a hunter-gatherer society; about a tenth of that to support a Neolithic agricultural society. We have evidence that the transition from agriculture back to hunter gatherer or herder has happened several times. For example: Before the beginning of the Younger Dryas, there was a start at agriculture in Eurasia that reverted back to hunter-gatherer when the weather cooled.
So I think that what caused the Migration period, specifically, was not the presence of surplus manpower but the increase of the amount of land needed to support a given ‘tribe’. As the weather cooled, each tribe needed more room to support itself and it tried to expand into its neighbors’ territory. The losers’ tribes moved further west into the political gap caused by the decay of the Roman Empire and found lots of nice land there.
I do think that surplus manpower was the cause of the Viking Age. Things were going very well in the North when the Vikings decided that the best path to a better lifestyle was to conquer their neighbors. Well, what else are you going to do with a lot of aggressive younger sons looking to start households of their own?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  AndyE
August 8, 2017 4:58 am

@ Jan – August 7, 2017 at 10:58 am

Well, what else are you going to do with a lot of aggressive younger sons looking to start households of their own?

Right you are, Jan.
And in the ole days, most of those aggressive younger sons had to first go “seeking their fortune” …… and to find it before they had any hopes of starting households of their own. And pillaging and robbing goods and valuables from other cultural groups near and far was the quickest way to achieve their goals.
And as it usually happens, many of those aggressive young sons quickly became attracted to the young females in/of the cultural groups that they were pillaging and robbing …….. and before too many years elapsed, any further pillaging and robbing would have been an “inter-family” affair, …. of blood relative against blood relative …….. and thus the looting and robbing ceased and was replaced by immigration and trade.
But then it started all over again when the King of one Kingdom decided he wanted to be King of an even larger Kingdom ……. and the fighting of blood relative against blood relative began anew.

Reply to  joel
August 8, 2017 2:25 pm

Maybe the younger brothers were in the dried fish trade. Warmer wetter weather meant they were able to dry only enough fish to feed themselves on the long delivery voyages they were used to making. OK bros, we can’t deliver, so let’s take instead.
Geez (or equivalent) this pays better than fishing! And we can buy the salt that wasn’t required before the climate changed.
A man’s gotta live!

Reply to  joel
August 19, 2017 11:49 am

More food also means that it takes less time to produce enough food to feed the population, giving you more time to go raiding.

Tom Halla
August 7, 2017 5:36 am

If I recall history correctly, both the rise of the Vikings and the ultimately successful feudal response to them was all during the Medieval Warm Period. It is more consistent with the Norse doing well, expanding their populations, and keeping peace at home by getting together and raiding and/or conquering foreigners.
The major threat from Viking raids was over by the late 1300’s, when the Little Ice Age hit.

Roger Graves
Reply to  Tom Halla
August 7, 2017 8:12 am

Tom Halla,
Your history is a little bit out. Most Viking raiding took place in the period 800-1000 AD. The Vikings, or the Norse to give them their more accurate name, had settled in northern France by about the year 900, and were formally ceded the land around the lower Seine by the then king of France, Charles the Simple, in 910. This land, once known as the Norsemen’s Land, is today known as Normandy. After 910, raiding in Normandy ceased because the new owners actively kept out any interlopers.
By the time of the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 by the descendants of these Norse, all further expansion and raiding in Western Europe had pretty well ceased. However, the Norse continued activities into Eastern Europe and the Middle East for a couple of centuries more, although as merchants and explorers rather than invaders. In the Great Mosque in Istanbul, which was once St Sophia’s cathedral, there is a runic inscription roughly carved into one of the walls saying ‘Ranulf was here’ (more or less), which is thought to have been made by a visiting Norse merchant, or possibly a hired bodyguard.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Roger Graves
August 7, 2017 8:20 am

It depends on when you date the Medieval Warm, which was mostly coincident with the Norse expansion. Internal politics in Scandinavia, as in the rise of monarchies, was mostly responsible for the fall in raiding. But it was over well before the end of the Medieval Warm.

Reply to  Roger Graves
August 7, 2017 8:42 am

Roger Graves
I’m not convinced the concept of a brutal Viking raider plundering a swathe across Northern Europe, Britain, Iceland, Greenland etc. exists in anything other than the imagination of movie makers.
Trade is likely to be the most logical driver of them setting sail from their homeland. Skirmishes undoubtedly occurred but a society with the intelligence to build the ships they did probably, like most civilised nations, recognised peaceful trade as a far more effective means to a profitable existence that simply plundering.
After all, when one plunders, rapes and pillages, one has lost the very labour needed to sustain the communities they clearly created everywhere they went.
My suggestion would be that they were more likely to have set up trading posts at various locations which grew thanks to profitable trade, evolving into assimilation with the indigenous community whilst bringing different architecture and farming methods.
Apparently the romantic portrayal of bearded men with helmets adorned with cow-horns is not true as I believe there is no evidence they ever mounted horns on helmets.
But the concept probably appealed to Hollywood.

Tom Halla
Reply to  HotScot
August 7, 2017 9:07 am

Not quite. Most of the monks, who were most of the literate class in Europe at the time, consistently reported longshore piracy. Of course, just how much trade went on with anyone who appeared to have sufficient defense to make piracy unprofitable went unrecorded.
The Norse went on to settle parts of England, Ireland, and France, and their descendants took over England and Sicily.

Reply to  Roger Graves
August 7, 2017 11:04 am

The trading was after the Vikings had captured British and Irish slaves to sell on the continent or farther afield to the Muslims.
Viking raiders and invaders were just as brutal and vicious as legend has them. But they were also farmers and traders. No distinction in their minds.
The Swedes went up the rivers of Russia to make contact with Islam and the Greek world. The Norwegians colonized Scotland and Ireland, plus NW England, then ventured out into the Atlantic. The Danes invaded England and SE Scotland, killed off the local English leadership and took over the Danelaw in eastern England, stopped only by Alfred of Wessex.

Reply to  Roger Graves
August 7, 2017 11:57 am

“Of course, just how much trade went on with anyone who appeared to have sufficient defense to make piracy unprofitable went unrecorded.”
Not that I’m contradicting you, but the monks were by nature of their education and, it has to be said, their peaceful existence, likely more inclined to report on, and dramatise bearing witness to violence.
A bit like our current MSM. Read the Guardian in several hundred years time and you would believe the planet was teetering on the brink of financial ruin, global Armageddon, social and political breakdown, and, of course, climatic disaster. All at once, tomorrow.
I will pick you up on one point though. Whilst the Vikings did undoubtedly occupy parts of England, one of the largest communities was believed to be in North East Scotland, Aberdeenshire particularly, where my late father in law hailed from, a direct Norse descendant.
One notable relic of the time is a Viking longship, now preserved and displayed outside Largs museum, which is on the West coast. By no stretch of the imagination could it be described as a warship or raiding vessel. It is far too small and more likely used for trade. Quite how, or why it got there baffles me as it’s possibly the longest, and most hazardous journey’s one could make in a fairly small boat, around the north of Scotland and down into the Irish sea.
And the most direct route to insulting a Jock (or a Taff or Paddy) is to call the British Isles England (but I forgive you :)). Nor did the Norse take over England. My understanding is that residents of Cornwall and Devon particularly, have entirely different DNA from those in NE Scotland. Similarly the West Coast of Scotland down into England and Wales, have their origins attributable to Irish Celts rather than Norsemen.
And a nice article here to suggest things were not all one way raping and pillaging.

Tom Halla
Reply to  HotScot
August 7, 2017 12:31 pm

BTW, I am part Swedish, and Irish, and English, and Czech,and New York Dutch, and German, and Mexican==> all except the Mexican dying long before I was born. Most of my ancestors spent a good deal of time invading, oppressing, and marrying each other.
I was thinking of the Danelaw in what is now England, and King Knut and his dynasty, who were Norse. National identification among the Norse gets more than a little vague that far back, as all or part of the current three countries were at one time part of another.

Reply to  Roger Graves
August 7, 2017 12:48 pm

The identification early on was not so much countries, but from which part of the North one came. Danish could include SW Sweden. But Old Norse hadn’t yet split into its many languages and dialects of today, although there were already dialects of it.
Cnut the Great was Danish, in both the geographic and national sense, since his dad Sweyn Forkbeard was King of Denmark, but also controlled much of Norway and briefly England, at the end of his life. (Using the English versions of their names.)

Reply to  Roger Graves
August 7, 2017 4:32 pm

not that I want to get into a willy waving competition, but I understand I’m simply descended from landed English gentry. My ancestors moved to Scotland and married.
Not sure if that qualifies as pure bloodline, nor do I care cos’ I didn’t see a brass farthing of the estates in the North of England my distant ancestors owned.

August 7, 2017 5:46 am

Vikings were versatile. They could farm. They could fish. They could trade. They could raid. They embodied the entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s a mistake to think they would have settled down to farm if the conditions had been right. It’s like saying they would have settled down as fishers. They didn’t think themselves as just one thing. link
Vikings had a technological advantage.

The Viking ship was perhaps the greatest technical and artistic achievement of the European dark ages. link

Their ships allowed them to travel the oceans to trade. Because the boats were fast and had shallow draft, they could raid communities without warning. By the time the locals had organized themselves to resist, the vikings were gone.

Bob boder
Reply to  commieBob
August 7, 2017 6:10 am

It could be that they were a really hardy adaptive people because they lived in a harsh climate and then when that climate became less harsh and their babies weren’t dying quite as fast they had unchecked population growth followed by rapid expansion and exploration?

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  commieBob
August 7, 2017 7:26 am

Yes, they were basically opportunists, raiding when that was possible, trading when that was most profitable.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 12:08 pm

Henning Nielsen
this ‘raiding’ concept irritates me.
Raiding is short term profit, and expensive in terms of life and equipment. Whilst there undoubtedly were raids by Vikings, I suspect the predominant, and undramatic/unromantic preference was for peaceful, profitable trade.
Repelling strange visitors in alien ships, who were probably cold, tired, hungry and thirsty because they seemed to represent a threat possibly incited the Norse to conduct raids to get vital provisions.
No one in their right mind sails several hundred miles in an open boat, across inhospitable seas just on the off chance they might nick a bit of corn.
On the other hand, this might be a better illustration of their activities.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 12:21 pm

My reply above is still in moderation, presumably because it mentions I$l@m.
There is not the least doubt that Vikings were intentional raiders, bent on capturing slaves and plundering anything of value. Lindisfarne was an obvious target. Easy pickings. Then they learned how vulnerable and rich England was, and what a great source of slaves Ireland was. The Norwegians did settle in northern and western Scotland, hence those Norse clan Highland and Island names, the Lord of the Isles and Jarl of Orkney. Not to mention Up Helly Aa in the Shetlands.
Scotland is a polyglot mixture of Scots from Ireland, Strathclyde Britons (akin to Welsh), Picts, Norse (both Norwegian and Danish) and English, ie three Celtic groups and two Germanic. With some French and other continentals thrown into the royal and noble families. As you know, Lowlanders still look down on (or up to) Highlanders as cattle thieves.

Tom in Denver
August 7, 2017 5:54 am

MY sister did a DNA test. results were 94% Scandinavian 6% Irish.
I wonder where that 6% came from. Perhaps we’ll join the ‘Viking Descendants Apology Tour’ in Ireland next year

Tom Halla
Reply to  Tom in Denver
August 7, 2017 6:05 am

War booty.

Bill Illis
Reply to  Tom in Denver
August 7, 2017 6:16 am

Most of Ireland’s largest cities were started as Viking settlements (not Belfast however).

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Tom in Denver
August 7, 2017 7:29 am

The Irish killed the king of Norway in 1103. We demand reparations for that.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 10:30 am

He probably would have been killed anyway. The Irish just saved someone else the effort.

August 7, 2017 5:54 am

Smith’s error – it is the COLLEGE of William and Mary, not the University of ….

August 7, 2017 6:03 am

Next up is the story of the Mongol climate refugees followed by the desperate climate migration acts of the poor Kaiser.

Bryan A
August 7, 2017 6:06 am

The temperature charted in the article does look like a possible cycle is happening. Kind of Mike’s Nature Tricky with the temperature record spliced onto the end to Hide the Decline apparent in the proxy records

Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
August 7, 2017 10:00 am

But since the Proxy records indicate a decline in temperatures that isn’t apparent in the Thermometer record it likely indicates that the Proxy Record doesn’t hold the resolution necessary to indicate temperature spikes that the satellite record can show..
There is no clear indication possible from Proxy Records that could show any temperature spikes similar to today’s satellite records rendering the proxy resolution a true Apples to Oranges comparison to the potential actual temperatures

Bob boder
August 7, 2017 6:06 am

Ya it couldn’t be population growth do to an increase in food output from a warmer climate, same reason they stopped expanding and raiding when it got cold again. God knows the Romans expansion had nothing to do with warmer weather, or the Mongols or hack even the bears that have been moving into my suburban neighborhood (though that had a lot to do with less hunting, but still population growth unchecked by nature or man).

August 7, 2017 6:17 am

Just a moment, the Vikings were not the only ‘baddies’ around.
My ‘tribe’ started around 600 AD their century+ long migration from shores of the Baltic Sea (north of Europe) to eventfully settle in the Balkan peninsula (south of Europe) On the way south they fought battles mostly with Germanic populations and Roman legions. According to Byzantine records of Slavs’ incursions into the territory of present Greece, the practice of r@pe and pillage was common. However Byzantine missionaries did a great job by converting ‘barbarians’ to Christianity in the process teaching them writing, literacy and art.
p.s. peoples of Balkans are still inclined to unnecessary violent confrontations; it looks as it might take more than about 40 generations for genetics to do the work in convert ‘barbarians’ to docile human beings.

Reply to  vukcevic
August 7, 2017 6:40 am

I hope you’re encumbered with the requisite guilt feelings. We all should feel guilt or a sense of being victimized. Otherwise why take a breath.

Reply to  vukcevic
August 7, 2017 9:10 am

Fat finger correction: it should be ‘started around 500 AD’

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  vukcevic
August 7, 2017 6:03 pm

535 Krakatoa eruption, to be precise.

Reply to  vukcevic
August 8, 2017 1:13 am

thanks, will have to look into that one

August 7, 2017 6:20 am

The abstract doesn’t make much sense. They mention “warmer climates” in Iceland and elsewhere, then seem to imply that Lofoten got colder when those places got warmer?
And they seem to imply that nobody has looked at this stuff before, when there has been so much work done it. The basic equations of warmer = fewer people dying from colder plus more food = fewer people dying from lack of food which gives rise to lots of young men without enough land has been the basic hypothesis for decades.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Phoenix44
August 7, 2017 7:38 am

It is a mistake to concentrate so much on agriculture in north Norway. Sure, it was important, but the wealth of the chieftains came mainly from trading in furs, walrus tusks and dried fish. Dried fish was the most important Norwegian export commodity already in the 11th century. The sagas tell of a trader from Lofoten who sailed all the way to England in 875 to sell dried fish and buy cloth.

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Phoenix44
August 7, 2017 6:09 pm

Don’t look for much sense in Hollywood tales, including AGW.

August 7, 2017 6:37 am

> like Iceland, which might have drawn people to settle there. But those who set sail may have been facing trouble with the crops back home thanks to changing temperatures.
Iceland was populated by the Norwegian clans / kings that lost the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, after which the landmass that is now called Norway has alway been ruled under one king.
Iceland was not settles because of climate change but displacement of people due to war. Before 873-874, when the first Norwegians arrived, nobody lived there (as far as we know).
I have never heard about a collapse in Lofoten before, but Norway was very impacted by the Black Plague where half the population perished. Obviously that had an impact in Lofoten too. This coincides with the onset of much colder climate from a round 1280 that cause all Viking settlements on Greenland to be abandoned. The last holdout was around 1312-1314.
Norway must have had pretty good surplus in the economy in the 11th and 12th centuries where the cathedrals of Stavanger and Nidaros (Trondheim) was started and completed in that period. These are monumental buildings that required massive effort at the time.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Silversufter
August 7, 2017 7:48 am

There was a small number of Irish hermits on Iceland some time before the Norsemen arrived, but one can hardly call this a settlement. The frst Norwegians could grow grain there (many came from the sourth west coast of Norway, which was good country for agriculture), but with a cooler cliante, plus deforestation and the resulting erosion, this became gradually more difficult.
The last documentation of Norse life in Greenland is a report of a wedding in Hvalsey church in 1408.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 8:33 am

Yes, 1312-1314 was a typo. It was 1412-1414.
I don’t think Iceland ever had much forest to write home about in any case, and Greenland certainly had none.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 11:10 am

Iceland was largely forested when the Norwegians arrived, killed off the Irish monks and settled the place with the women they had captured in the British Isles.
When the Norse came to Iceland in AD 874, all of its lowlands were covered with forest, though only birch, rowan and willow. Overall, forest coverage was around 25-40%. But it didn’t take long for most of that to disappear under the ax and from fire.

August 7, 2017 6:39 am

They seem to be asking “can we find evidence that warming was bad for Vikings and forced them to migrate?” That is not a scientific approach. A scientific approach would be “the climate changed, how did this affect the Vikings, positive and/or negative?” Obviously warming in a cold marginal agricultural zone, would almost certainly have been a good thing for crops. Trying to paint it differently shows an enormous bias. I also note the temperature reconstructoins have been Mann-handled in that instrument temperatures are spliced onto the ends giving the impression of an unprecedented warming. At least in this case that is clearly labeled but it is important to point out that these are measurements with very different resolution from the proxy records and therefore cannot be compared.

August 7, 2017 6:40 am

Hagar the Horrible shows the Vikings pillage because that’s what they do.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  siamiam
August 7, 2017 7:52 am

Obviuosly, global warming caused the Viking raids. They went crazy in all that heat, and fled to cool places like Iceland and Greenland, even Newfoundland. Those who could not navigate properly ended up in warm places like France and England, and in their desperate disappointment they went totally mad and slaughtered everyone. It was not their fault, it was all because of global warming. You can’t blame us.

August 7, 2017 6:50 am

I guess knowing history is not required to become a climate expert. The Viking Museum in Oslo provides a detailed account of the rise and fall of the Viking era. According to data and charts in the museum, the Vikings thrived during the medieval climate optimum, but withered away at the onset of the little ice age as the fjords did not thaw and Viking ships were stuck in the frozen fjords.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Mohatdebos
August 7, 2017 7:57 am

The Viking era ended ca.1050, still in the medieval warm period. A main reason for ending the Viking raids was that the Scandinavian countries had at that time become quite centralized kingdoms (Denmark even earlier), and the kings did not want random raiding to interfere with their foreign relations and trade.
There was also Viking raids inside Scandinavia, and “Viking” is not the word for a people, but for an activity; “going Viking”.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 8:05 am

If I recall correctly, Viking is a euphemism parallel to “highwayman”, with a “vik” being a bay or inlet.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 11:13 am

In Old Norse, it meant “bay” or “creek”. In modern Norwegian, it means “inlet”; in Swedish, a bay or gulf.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 8, 2017 5:40 am

Viking(s) is therefore an appropriate name for those persons who sailed and/or paddled their longboats into the bay, gulf or inlet of a foreign territory and then up the rivers or creeks to pillage and rob the settlements.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 8, 2017 4:41 pm

The original meaning of the word viking comes from name of the Oslo Fjord which at that time of was simply called “Vik” / “Viken” ( old norse for “Bay” / “The Bay” ) and a viking orginally was a man from VIKEN ( THE BAY ).

August 7, 2017 6:54 am

The more favorable climate conditions would inevitably lead to an increase in population and no increase in agricultural output would lead to excess people looking for somewhere else, or at least looking for more food(other than dried fish). Trading&raiding often went hand in hand. And building outposts farther south would also be a natural progression. This point has already been made above, multiple times, so I shall let it rest.

Gunga Din
August 7, 2017 7:00 am

Global Warming Caused Vikings to Become Terrorists

I guess Man built one too many campfires…

August 7, 2017 7:28 am

Actually, it is very simple,
If you have a family and are doing nicely on the land,
…what do they do with the rambunctious “little boys”,
…..who are looking for “mates” and “land” and “stuff to win at”?
Remember that child birth was very, very risky
…women didn’t not do well as food became more plentiful and kids were born “bigger/healthier”
Bottom line:
The productivity of that period had lots of “little boys”
…with nothing to do but “go find mates/land/adventure/…”

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Susan Corwin
August 7, 2017 7:59 am

It is in the genetic make up of all animals to reproduce and pass on their seed, with the strongest doing so most often enabling that species to endure. Humans were no exception.

Patrick Hrushowy
August 7, 2017 7:31 am

Don’t the authors of this kind of phony science realize they look stupid and risk giving all of science a bad name?

Ian W
Reply to  Patrick Hrushowy
August 7, 2017 8:15 am

I think that you may have mistaken them for people who care for science. They got a research grant and a summer living out in Norway. What’s not to like?

Pamela Gray(@pamelasuemakin)
August 7, 2017 8:15 am

The pioneering force was strong in them. That’s the whole theory and nothing but the theory. It appeals to a certain kind of personality such that the phrase, “Go West young man!” is too damn hard to resist. Climate change need not apply.

Steve Lohr
August 7, 2017 8:18 am

A good scientific inquiry should start with a good question. These “researchers” should have done a literature search. This cultural work would be a good start: . And of course the good question should be: why is stock-fish part of West African cuisine? Any great migration requires the technology(means), motivation, and opportunity. Nobody can terrorize without being able to find someone to terrorize. By horse or by ship(and now days aircraft and automobiles), you can’t bother anyone without being able to knock on their door. There are other authors worth mentioning: Paul Colinvaux; The Fates of Nations, Jared Diamond, etc. To boil down everything “the climate made me do it” is pitifully sophomoric but I expect more of this as long as universities stay on this weather fascination thing. Just my thoughts.

Kaiser Derden
August 7, 2017 8:23 am

I think they most likely traded with communities that could protect themselves and raided the ones that couldn’t …

Kristian Fredriksson
August 7, 2017 8:30 am

Our tribes were actually out on a violent migration between 100 and 500 too. Year 410 the Visigoths sacked Rome and many Scandinavian and north Germanic tribes settled in the Balkans and Austria and many of them went back around 500 according to the Roman annals. We have some strange dialects in some areas in Sweden that i believe is where these people settled when they came back. One of the dialects is very similar to east Gothic from the Black sea. The counting sounds exactly the same and it differ from normal Swedish even though the words are almost the same (Ein, twau, tre, fire and so on). The people in this area have also a lot of English words that they use like vindue (window, wind eye) that differ from Swedish and more broad diphthongs than we use just a little bit away. More like English pronunciation.
But i think there was more problems with the climate in this first period between 100 and 500 than it was during the viking time. Of course it was bad when Greenland froze, but we have a name Fimbulvinter after the year 536 when a volcanic eruption made people starve for many years. I believe the viking time was hot and a really good climate. So this idea sounds stupid to me.

Reply to  Kristian Fredriksson
August 7, 2017 11:16 am

The Dark Ages Cold Period, following the Roman Warm Period, is also called the Migrations or Volkwanderungen Period. I guess Barbarian Invasion Period is too unPC.

August 7, 2017 8:35 am

Once a race of fearless warriors with the hearts of lions, the descendants of the Vikings are now cowering at the feet of Islam. WTF happened?

Reply to  MikeyParks
August 7, 2017 9:37 am

Prosperity ruins everything.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  MikeyParks
August 7, 2017 10:52 am

The lion lies down with the lamb 🙂

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
August 7, 2017 12:15 pm

But only the lion gets up again.

Jim Leek
August 7, 2017 8:37 am

Standard tribal practice: harvest the crops, then go steal your neighbor’s stuff. More pleasant weather means more time to steal.

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  Jim Leek
August 7, 2017 10:39 am

Ja, da vikings got a bad rap. All it was: A bunch of guys who lived around the same vik or fjord got together during the winter to drink ale and build a boat. Maybe they did more drinking than boat building, but hey, they had all winter 😉 Come spring they put the crops in the ground and the boat in the water and went of to places like England and France and Kiev and Constatinople so they could see the sights and get drunk and chase the local girls and have misunderstandings with the local cops til it gets to be time to harvest the crops so they pick up a few souvenirs and go home.
So swears my friend Bjarne Frafjord

August 7, 2017 8:51 am

Based on cAGW policies, those whose ancestors didn’t freeze to death at birth should be taxed harsher to cool the outside air. Why on Earth could that anger anyone in Scandinavia, eh?

August 7, 2017 8:57 am

Gerald Cooper
August 7, 2017 9:05 am

Can’t wait to see the reasons why pirates became such a scourge in the 17th century. Although the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster does believe that pirates can control the weather and climate change is directly linked to the drop in the number of pirates.

August 7, 2017 9:19 am

Every time I hear someone disparaging my ancestors and heritage, and I can’t find a safe space to escape to, I tend to die a little bit inside. It’s sad, and hard to believe, that in this enlightened age some people are still this uncaring and unsympathetic.
Labeling us terrorists; Characterizing an entire culture as rapists and killers (and wearers of horned hats) wasn’t enough, we are now to be known as being descended from terrorists.
But, if there were indeed a few bad apples, at least we now know it wasn’t their (our ancestors’) fault … the fault lies within the warming. Their (and our) actions are just a function of our environment. The fault lies with Gaia and those individuals who misuse Gaia (ya, you know who you are).
(The Danes, on the other hand, were true bastards without alibi or justification for their devious & murderous ways. There is no excuse, except for their poor/evil genetic make-up. The only good Dane is a stoned Dane … this keeps ’em from going on their murderous rampages.)

August 7, 2017 9:25 am

Let me help out the researchers here. Exploration is expensive. Mars, Moon, Columbus, Marco Polo, etc. The only way the Vikings could afford to paddle their long boats to Canada is if somebody bought tons of fish to put on their boats (along with iron tools and other necessities). Exploration occurs during times of excess, not during times of want. Times of want lead to refugees begging to be allowed in.

Sixto Vega
Reply to  chadb
August 7, 2017 10:01 am

Except the exploration was incidental to plunder, extortion and slave raiding. Followed by mass murder land grabbing. Iceland and Greenland offered empty land for outlaws, who stopped off in Ireland first to steal women.

Sixto Vega
Reply to  Sixto Vega
August 7, 2017 10:08 am

The early raids might also have been religious revenge for Charlemagne’s destruction of Saxony and forcible conversion of its Nordic-Germanic pagans to Roman Christianity. In this bloody crusade, the Frankish army was abetted by Anglo-Saxon priests, whose speech was still somewhat intelligible to the German Saxons after 350 years of separate linguistic evolution.

August 7, 2017 9:28 am

Climate and history are inextricably bound together.

August 7, 2017 9:36 am

Look, let’s get history straight. The Vikings were peaceful fishermen and traders. The legend of the vicious Viking began when the drunken and licentious Irish priests who were stealing all the gold from the churches got an inspection from the Pope of Rome who asked were all the church gold had gone.
“Oh, that gold? Uh…., the Norwegians stole it!”
“You don’t mean those pathetic pacifists who let anybody come into their country and take over, do you?”
“No. They are fierce. We call them the Vikings!”
BTW, viking used to mean fisherman in Norwegian. QED.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  joel
August 7, 2017 10:56 am

No, Viking did not use to mean a fisherman in Norwegian. Somebody must have told you a tall story about their grandfather.

August 7, 2017 9:51 am

So is it now official that the MWP actually happened? These guys are going to be vilified by the mob for even suggesting that there was a natural warming back then, let alone 1000 years before that. Although my understanding is that the Roman was slightly warmer then the MWP the graph above seems to show that they were about the same.
Don’t expect too many more papers from these guys to be published.

Sixto Vega
August 7, 2017 9:56 am

As usual, scare mongers have it bass ackward. Warmth caused better crops, leading to surplus population. At the sane time, more trees meant more and better ships.
Norwegians attacked Scotland, Ireland and Cumbria, thence settled the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland and briefly Newfoundland. Danes invaded East Anglia, Northumbria and Mercia and raided the south coast of England. Swedes founded Russia.

August 7, 2017 10:19 am

Only someone not familiar with Scandinavia could get the idea that a warmer climate would cause agricultural problems. There is NO crop that can’t be grown anywhere in in Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Finland because it is to warm. The southernmost part of Norse territory (Haithabu in Slesvig) is at the same latitude as Prince Rupert and has about the same annual temperature as Vancouver. Anyone has any suggestions about any crop that will fail in Vancouver because of the heat?

August 7, 2017 10:23 am

When one of the core beliefs of your religion is that you need to die with a sword in your hand to enter “heaven” aka Valhalla, I seriously doubt you need any climate change related push to become violent.

August 7, 2017 10:36 am

How about this for a hypothesis.
The warming temps of the Medieval Warm Period lead to record crops and healthier conditions. This resulted in more children and more of those children survived to adulthood. This caused a severe population crisis as even with warmer conditions there was a limit on farmable land. So younger sons, who would not inherit much if anything, went adventuring to either plunder riches to buy land or to capture/settle new lands.

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  ddpalmer
August 7, 2017 11:55 am


Reply to  ddpalmer
August 7, 2017 8:28 pm

Well, I always wondered what the English were doing in Asia, Oceania, Africa and America. In the meanwhile European population density map

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
August 7, 2017 8:42 pm

And yet Belgium didn’t conquer the world. Except for the colony of its king, in which native Africans had their arms cut off for not doing as told.

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
August 8, 2017 10:06 am

Is your comment suppose to somehow be related to mine? Because if so I am missing it.

Yogi Bear
August 7, 2017 11:25 am

Major Viking raid periods on the UK, 792-850 AD, and 980-1012 AD. Looks like colder periods.comment image?w=720

Ill Tempered Klavier
Reply to  Yogi Bear
August 7, 2017 12:02 pm

Huh? While around 800 does show a trough it’s not among the deep ones and around 1000 looks like a peak.

Reply to  Yogi Bear
August 7, 2017 12:05 pm

My more detailed comment disappeared, so will just point out that Norse incursions were more or less continuous in the British Isles from the late 8th century to 1066.
The Great Heathen Army of AD 865-75 led to the Danelaw. Then, in the next century, Athelstan fought both Danes and Norwegians. Before losing to Duke William of Normandy, descended from Viking Rollo the Ganger, King Harold Godwinson of England, half Norse himself, beat King Harald Hardrada’s Norwegian invaders (and his brother) at Stamford Bridge in 1066.
After that time, Normans continued their ancestors’ practices, leading to invasions as disparate as Ireland, Sicily and the Holy Land.

Reply to  Gloateus
August 7, 2017 12:11 pm

Not to mention King Cnut, so often wrongly cited in climate discourse. Harold’s Danish mom was the sister-in-law of Cnut’s sister. Harold’s sister Edith was married to King Edward the Confessor of England, but they failed to produce an heir. Hence Harold v. Harald v. William for the crown. Harold won the semis in the North but lost in the final to William the Conqueror in the South.

Dodgy Geezer
August 7, 2017 12:00 pm

… I’m not a farmer, but it seems to me that global warming would have actually enhanced the Vikings’ ability to farm up around the Arctic Circle….
You farm well – you get lots of wealth.
You get lots of wealth – you can afford a ship and a raiding band
With a ship and a raiding band, you have something to do during the summer months, when there isn’t much work on the farm…

August 7, 2017 12:47 pm

The Vikings settled in:
• Islands off the coast of Scotland – Shetland, Orkney and The Hebrides.
• Around the north and north west coast of Scotland.
• Parts of Ireland – Dublin is a Viking city.
• The Isle of Man.
• Small parts of Wales.
• Northumbria (which included modern Yorkshire)
• East Anglia.
The Clan MacRae and our allies partied with the Vikings, led by King Haakon IV of Norway on the beach at the Battle of Largs in 1263 – apparently we were poor hosts because they never called back again. 🙂

Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
August 7, 2017 12:54 pm

The Norwegians from Dublin also dominated Cumbria.
The Danelaw covered not just Northumbria and East Anglia, but Middlesex, Essex, much of Mercia and the Irish Sea coast.comment image

August 7, 2017 1:03 pm

If you are in UK prog. ‘Viking World’ just started on BBC4, narrated by a Scottish archaeologist

Reply to  vukcevic
August 7, 2017 1:24 pm
Clan of the Son of Torcadal, ie “Thunder God’s Kettle”: Cf. Thorkil.

August 7, 2017 1:31 pm

Can’t say if this is true or not but what I’ve heard is that it is cooling that leads to invasions because a lot of people on marginal land had to find somewhere else to live. This caused the barbarian invasions at the end of the Roman Warm period and the Mongolians at the end of the middle ages warm period. It is when the current warm period ends that we are going to see massive numbers of climate refugees.

August 7, 2017 2:58 pm

…and the North Koreans are driven by droughts and limited electric grid to develop ICBMs to point at you and you.

Steve M
August 7, 2017 3:25 pm

Please re-post updated article after you get 97% of historians to agree…!

August 7, 2017 7:09 pm

If you read the Icelandic Sagas you will learn what the challenge was that they were facing back home. There was a change from what amounted to a warlord sort of society with regional strongmen to a strong central government with a strong King and Christianity was being adopted replacing the old Norse religious system. People who rebelled or found it difficult to get along with the new stronger central government were often exiled to places like Iceland.

August 7, 2017 8:18 pm

As if Ragnar would have left the impregnated Queen Edith behind in Northumbria, rather then carrying her off as a hostage at best and sex slave more likely:

But still a great movie.

Gary Pearse
August 7, 2017 10:47 pm

Calling the Vikings terrorists is just post normal idiocy and the worst kind of political correctness. The Euros are looking for white ‘terrorists’ as a way of saying, see, the islamists aren’t alone at this and even they are victims of global warming, too. The white Britisher who drove his van into Muslims leaving the mosque in the UK was a relief to May and gonzos like the authors of this drek because it gave weight to the policorrectal crowd.
The Persians invaded the Greeks, but an example like that gets no traction from the researchers nor does the Mongolians invading a whole bunch of places. Yeah, but they’re not as bad as the Norwegian white terrorists and it was CO2 and methane (all those horses and men) what done it.
Now the Women’s Studies gals will be researching that there was no glass ceiling in the Vikings camps and the Viqueens were also busy chopping body parts off with glee and the male warriors were saying I’m with her. .
Pray tell who wasn’t invading somebody or being invaded over the last 4000 yrs. Bloody Europe never stopped invading over its history until 1945. At least they had cojones then and not the ever so terribly concerned and guilty milquetoasty fainting fits of policorrectal goodness.

William Smith
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 8, 2017 6:49 am

“The white Britisher who drove his van into Muslims leaving the mosque” this is a meme.
Check the position of the mosque and check the position of the incident. There is no possible way, by any stretch of the imagination, this could be called ‘outside a mosque’, except in a politically correct environment that required the event to have happened ‘outside a mosque’.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 8, 2017 11:53 am

Invading continued in Europe after 1945, to include the USSR of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Croatia and Serbia of each other and of Bosnia, Serbia of Kosovo, Russia of the Crimea and Ukraine and Russia of Georgia (OK, outside of Europe but invaded from Europe).
Granted, maybe Bosnia and Kosovo shouldn’t have been countries, but were in order to cater to their Mooslam populations.

August 8, 2017 9:15 pm

“Historians still aren’t sure exactly what led to the centuries of Viking raiding and expansion,”
They got bored.

Reply to  RoHa
August 8, 2017 9:20 pm

Boredom has caused terrible wars, to include World War I.
But, terrible though the Vikings were, their ravages by sea were far less horrific than those of Caesar in Gaul by land more than 800 years before.

Donovan Harrison
August 9, 2017 1:36 pm

I went to Alaska in 1965. The first teaching job I had was teaching PE. I give a section in boxing in December. When the section was through, I asked if anyone wanted to Box. I got to takers. When the days grew longer and longer in April, I walked into the gym and two boys were bowed up to each other. A fight was about to start. “Wait,” I said, “Let’s get the gloves on. They did. And then I spent the rest of the period tying gloves on. Everyone wanted to fight someone. When the days start getting notable longer after a long dark winter, there is something in the brain that makes you get pissed off. I well understand the Vikings. Global warming has nothing to do with it.

Vince Cook
August 10, 2017 4:45 pm

Were they really terrorists, or were they heroic liberators rescuing oppressed peasants from ruthless exploitation by church and nobility?

Reply to  Vince Cook
August 11, 2017 3:31 am

They killed fellow pagans with gleeful abandon so I don’t think they were really either.

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