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Little Ice Age Term Coined By F.E. Matthes In 1939



The Little Ice Age followed the Medieval Warming Period that was driven by natural causes rather than human causes because humans had not yet invented the machines that scientists now blame for climate change.

During the Little Ice Age, a term that was originally applied to thousands of years of freezing temperatures, mountain glaciers grew in size in Alaska, New Zealand, the European Alps and the southern Andes.

Francois-Emile Matthes, a Dutch-born American geologist, entered Little Ice Age, the term, into scientific literature in 1939, and he limited the number of years far less than the 4000 that had originally been associated with the term, maintaining that the Little Ice Age began in 1300 and ended in 1850.

Although the Little Ice Age has been noted by scientists as not impacting the entire planet, a large region of the Earth was significantly impacted. While the Northern Hemisphere experienced notable cooling of up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit that lasted for decades, eastern China’s temperatures remained stable.

Areas of northern Europe suffered from long winters and shorter and wetter summers. Also, South Asia and Central Asia along with equatorial Africa experienced extended droughts year after year. The Little Ice Age lowered the Earth’s temperature for centuries in certain parts while the planet grew warmer in other areas.

The hardest hit areas by the Little Ice Age were in Europe and the North Atlantic region. Alpine glaciers increased in size and extended farther south than before, farther than the present, destroying churches, farms and entire villages in Switzerland.

The extreme temperatures of the cold winters and cooler and wetter summers in northern and central Europe led to widespread famine.

During the Little Ice Age, glaciers in Japan expanded as temperatures dropped as much as 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit while ice locked Iceland for longer periods of time each year. The increase of sea ice brought isolation to Greenland, causing its eastern colony to be evacuated and its western colony to suffer from starvation.

Scientists have not reached a consensus about the causes of The Little Ice Age, but some climatologists believe that changes in atmospheric conditions involving the way air circulates around the Earth, lower solar output and volcanic activity on Earth created the phenomenon.

Lower sunspot activity yields less heat to the Earth, and one volcanic eruption is known to have lowered the Earth’s temperature by one degree Fahrenheit for an entire year due to ash clouds that circled the Earth.

One thing scientists agree about concerning the cause of The Little Ice Age is that human pollution was not the driver of the significant lowering of a large portion of Earth’s temperature while the temperature of the Earth inexplicably rose in other regions.

Volcanic eruptions have been known to lower the Earth’s temperature, and the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, a stratovolcano in the Philippines, released sulfur dioxide that caused the global temperature to drop by 1 degree Fahrenheit for one year.

In 1883, Krakatoa, rated as the third most powerful volcanic explosion on Earth, erupted on April 26-27, and its gaseous cloud of ash spread around the world, negatively impacting the climate.

By the 1980s, Chris Newhall and Stephen Self at the University of Hawai had developed Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) to measure the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions.

Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 killing 54 people and spreading its gaseous cloud of ash around the world within two weeks of it eruption.

The point is that volcanic activity has always had an impact on climate and weather, and Mount Tambora on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia, erupted in 1815, sending heavy clouds of ash for thousands of miles. Scientists have estimated that 71,000 perished from its blast and subsequent spreading of dioxide sulfur in clouds mixed with ash. The eruption was so loud that it could be heard 1,200 miles away on Sumatra Island.

The forces of the natural world have often lowered the Earth’s temperature, and the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period provide evidence of climate change brought about by natural forces on Earth and beyond without humans driving the climate change.

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