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The Little Ice Age In Iceland

April 17, 2015

By Paul Homewood  




While we’re on the subject of Arctic ice, it is worth taking a look at this map from HH Lamb’s “Climate, History and the Modern World”.

It shows the boundary between cold, polar water and the warmer Gulf Stream.

This is a pretty good indicator of how Arctic sea ice extent would have changed over the centuries.

Note that Lamb’s book was published in 1982, so his 20thC line would predate the latest warming in the Arctic.

There has clearly been a huge retreat of the colder waters since the depths of the Little Ice Age, long before CO2 emissions could have had any effect.

When looked at with this sort of perspective, why should anybody be in the least surprised at ice extent changes in the last few decades?


There were, of course, great advances of Arctic sea ice after the peak warmth of the MWP. Examples of this around Greenland are well documented, but Lamb (pp189) gives us this interesting account of how the climate changed in Iceland:



In Iceland the old Norse society and its economy suffered a severe decline which set in first about AD 1200 and could be said to have continued over almost six centuries. The population of the country fell from about 77500, as indicated by the tax records in 1095, to around 72000 in 1311. By 1703 it was nearly down to 50000, and after some severe years of ice and volcanic eruptions in the 1780’s it was only about 38000. The people’s average stature also seems to have declined, much as in Greenland, from 5ft 8in to 5ft 6in from the 10th to the 18thC.

It is clear from the surviving records that years when the Arctic sea ice was close to the Iceland coast for long months (usually between January and August) played a big part in this. In such years, the spring and summer were so cold that there was little hay and thousands of sheep died. The shellfish of the seashore were also destroyed by the ice. Gradually all attempts at grain growing were given up. The glaciers were advancing.

The times of most ice and coldest climate in Iceland seem to have started suddenly in 1197-8 and 1203, and reached culminating phases around 1300, from about 1580 to 1700, especially the 1690’s, and again in the late 18th and 19thC.


Large and sudden changes in the climate of the Arctic have been commonplace in the past, yet we arrogantly assume that mankind is now responsible.

  1. April 17, 2015 5:21 pm

    Reblogged this on the WeatherAction News Blog.

  2. Brian H permalink
    April 17, 2015 9:34 pm

    Lamb got many things right the AGW-sheeple subsequently got and are getting wrong.

  3. April 19, 2015 8:28 am

    To continue your interesting story: after the end of the Little Ice Age (in the middle of 19th century, around 1850), global temperature started to rise, the main reason of this phenomenon being the decrease of the volcanic activities. But naval war interrupted a steady warming trend two times yet. World War I ended with a severe “bang” in the late 1918. There is nothing clearer than the beginning of a “big warming” that occurred concomitantly with the end of WWI, in November 1918. World War II (1939 – 1941): In the autumn of 1939, the naval warfare ended within four war months which reversed the two decade warming trend and determined the cooling phenomenon which started with three extreme war winters in Northern Europe and which lasted four decades, until 1980. I’ve found some interesting aspects about climate change and the cooling of Europe here:

    • RockySpears permalink
      May 14, 2015 12:40 pm

      Sorry? Are you saying “Boats affect the Climate”? Or is this tongue in cheek?

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