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North Atlantic Storms: Medieval Warm Period vs. Little Ice Age
Trouet, V., Scourse, J.D. and Raible, C.C. 2012. North Atlantic storminess and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation during the last millennium: Reconciling contradictory proxy records of NAO variability. Global and Planetary Change 84-85: 48-55.

The authors write that "an increasing number of high-resolution proxy records covering the last millennium have become available in recent years, providing an increasingly powerful reference frame for assessing current and future climate conditions," and, we might add, for assessing the validity of the climate-alarmist claim that warmer conditions typically lead to increases in the frequency and/or ferocity of stormy weather.

What was done
Trouet et al. searched the scientific literature for evidence pertinent to their climate modeling concern, which also happens to be pertinent to the concern about global warming and what it does or does not imply about concurrent storminess.

What was learned
Among other things, the three researchers report that (1) "the content of marine-source ssNa aerosols in the GISP2 ice core record, a proxy for storminess over the adjacent ocean through the advection of salt spray [ss], is high during the LIA with a marked transition from reduced levels during the MCA [hereafter MWP] (Meeker and Mayewski, 2002; Dawson et al., 2007)," (2) "the onset of the LIA in NW Europe is notably marked by coastal dune development across western European coastlines linked to very strong winds during storms (Clarke and Rendell, 2009; Hansom and Hall, 2009)" and often inundating local settlements and therefore with supporting archival evidence (Lamb, 1995; Bailey et al., 2001)," (3) "a number of studies of Aeolian sand deposition records from western Denmark exist that have recorded a period of destabilization of coastal sand dunes and sand migration during the LIA and have ascribed it to a combination of increased storminess and sea-level fluctuations (Szkornik et al., 2008; Clemmensen et al., 2001; Aagard et al., 2007)," (4) "similar records and interpretations are available for the British Isles (Hansom and Hall, 2009) and Scotland (Gilbertson et al., 1999; Wilson, 2002)," (5) "in an analysis of Royal Navy ships' log books from the English Channel and southwestern approaches covering the period between 1685 and 1750 CE, Wheeler et al. (2010) note a markedly enhanced gale frequency during one of the coldest episodes of the LIA ... towards the end of the Maunder Minimum [MM]," (6) "this late phase of the MM is also registered by the deflation of sand into the ombrotrophic peat bogs of Store mosse and Undarmosse in southwest Sweden (De Jong et al., 2006)," (7) "more evidence for increased storm severity during the MM is provided by an archive-based reconstruction of storminess over the Northwest Atlantic and the North Sea (Lamb and Frydendahl, 1991)," (8) "increased storm activity during the LIA was not restricted to northwestern Europe, but was also recorded further south along the Atlantic coast in The Netherlands (Jelgersma et al., 1995) and northern (Sorrel et al., 2009) and southwestern France (Clarke et al., 2002)," and (9) "sedimentary records of LIA coastal dune accretion have also been found further south on the French Mediterranean coast (Dezileau et al., 2011) and in the western Iberian Peninsula (Borja et al., 1999; Zazo et al., 2005; Clarke and Rendell, 2006)."

What it means
For this particular portion of the planet, it should be very clear that relative coolness, as opposed to relative warmth, typically leads to more extreme storms, which is just the opposite of what the world's climate alarmists continue to contend. And for more of the same on this subject as it pertains to other parts of the world, see Storms in our Subject Index.

Aagaard, T., Orford, J. and Murray, A.S. 2007. Environmental controls on coastal dune formation; Skallingen Spit, Denmark. Geomorphology 83: 29-47.

Bailey, S.D., Wintle, A.G., Duller, G.A.T. and Bristow, C.S. 2001. Sand deposition during the last millennium at Aberffraw, Anglesey, North Wales as determined by OSL dating of quartz. Quaternary Science Reviews 20: 701-704.

Borja, F., Zazo, C., Dabrio, C.J., del Olmo, F.D., Goy, J.L. and Lario, J. 1999. Holocene Aeolian phases and human settlements along the Atlantic coast of southern Spain. The Holocene 9: 333-339.

Clarke, M.L. and Rendell, H.M. 2006. Effects of storminess, sand supply and the North Atlantic oscillation on sand invasion and coastal dune accretion in western Portugal. The Holocene 16: 10.1191/0959683606h1932rp.

Clarke, M.L. and Rendell, H.M. 2009. The impact of North Atlantic storminess on western European coasts: a review. Quaternary International 195: 31-41.

Clarke, M., Rendell, H., Tastet, J.-P., Clave, B. and Masse, L. 2002. Late-Holocene sand invasion and North Atlantic storminess along the Aquitaine Coast, southwest France. The Holocene 12: 231-238.

Clemmensen, L.B., Pye, K., Murray, A. and Heinemeier, J. 2001. Sedimentology, stratigraphy, and landscape evolution of a Holocene coastal dune system, Lodbjerg, NW Jutland, Denmark. Sedimentology 48: 3-27.

Dawson, A.G., Hickey, K., Mayewski, P.A. and Nesje, A. 2007. Greenland (GISP2) ice core and historical indicators of complex North Atlantic climate changes during the fourteenth century. The Holocene 17: 10.1177/0959683607077010.

De Jong, R., Bjorck, S., Bjorkman, L. and Clemmensen, L.B. 2006. Storminess variation during the last 6500 years as reconstructed from an ombrotrophic peat bog in Halland, southwest Sweden. Journal of Quaternary Science 21: 10.1002/jqs.1011.

Dezileau, L., Sabatier, P., Blanchemanche, P., Joly, B., Swingedouw, D., Cassou, C., Castaings, J., Martinez, P. and Von Grafenstein, U. 2011. Intense storm activity during the Little Ice Age on the French Mediterranean coast. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 299: 289-297.

Gilbertson, D.D., Schwenninger, J.L., Kemp, R.A. and Rhodes, E.J. 1999. Sand-drift and soil formation along an exposed North Atlantic coastline: 14,000 years of diverse geomorphological, climatic and human impacts. Journal of Archaeological Science 26: 439-469.

Hansom, J.D. and Hall, A.M. 2009. Magnitude and frequency of extra-tropical North Atlantic cyclones: a chronology from cliff-top storm deposits. Quaternary International 195: 10.1016/j.quaint.2007.11.010.

Jelgersma, S., Stive, M.J.F. and van der Walk, L. 1995. Holocene storm surge signatures in the coastal dunes of the western Netherlands. Marine Geology 125: 95-110.

Lamb, H.H. 1995. Climate, History and the Modern World, Second Edition. Routledge.

Lamb, H.H. and Frydendahl, K. 1991. Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Meeker, L.D. and Mayewski, P.A. 2002. A 1400-year high-resolution record of atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic and Asia. The Holocene 12: 257-266.

Sorrel, P., Tessier, B., Demory, F., Delsinne, N. and Mouaze, D. 2009. Evidence for millennial-scale climatic events in the sedimentary infilling of a macrotidal estuarine system, the Seine estuary (NW France). Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 499-516.

Szkornik, K., Gehrels, W.R. and Murray, A.S. 2008. Aeolian sand movement and relative sea-level rise in Ho Bugt, western Denmark, during the 'Little Ice Age'. The Holocene 18: 10.1177/0959683608091800.

Wheeler, D., Garcia-Herrera, R., Wilkinson, C.W. and Ward, C. 2010. Atmospheric circulation and storminess derived from Royal Navy logbooks: 1685-1750 (vol 101, pg 257, 2010). Climatic Change 103: 10.1007/s10584.009.9755.3.

Wilson, P. 2002. Holocene coastal dune development on the South Erradale peninsula, Wester Ross, Scotland. Scottish Journal of Geology 38: 5-13.

Zazo, C., Mercier, N., Silva, P.G., Dabrio, C.J., Goy, J.L., Roquero, E., Soler, V., Boria, F., Lario, J., Polo, D. and de Luque, L. 2005. Landscape evolution and geodynamic controls in the Gulf of Cadiz (Huelva coast, SW Spain) during the Late Quaternary. Geomorphology 68: 269-290.

Reviewed 5 September 2012