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The Red Sea's East-Coast Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age

Paper Reviewed
Abu-Zied, R.H. and Bantan, R.A. 2015. Palaeoenvironment, palaeoclimate and sea-level changes in the Shuaiba Lagoon during the late Holocene (last 3.6 ka), eastern Red Sea coast, Saudi Arabia. The Holocene 25: 1301-1312.

Introducing their most interesting paper, Abu-Zied and Bantan (2015) describe how they had conducted multi-proxy investigations of sediment lithology, geochemistry, benthic foraminifera and δ18O and δ13C of Elphidium striatopunctatum that were carried out on a sediment core they had recovered from Shuaiba Lagoon on the eastern Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia that spanned the last 3.6 thousand years, where the substrate of the lagoon was dominated by mangrove trees, seagrasses, macroalgae, small molluscs and many benthic foraminiferal assemblages sensitive to sea-level changes. And what was the result of their many analyses?

The two Saudi researchers report that their several studies of the above-enumerated climatic proxies of their sediment core "inferred warming during the deposition of the AD 1000-1550 interval [that] corresponds to the 'Medieval Warm Period' (MWP) (AD 800-1300)," while "the period (AD 1550-1850) of lower evaporation is very well correlated with the 'Little Ice Age' (LIA) that dominated the northern hemisphere and lasted between AD 1300 and 1900," citing the studies of Cronin et al. (2003), Driese et al. (2004), Kaniewski et al. (2011), Lamb (1977), Ljungqvist (2010), Ljungqvist et al. (2012), Moberg et al. (2005), Quamar and Chauhan (2013), Wanner et al. (2008, 2011) and Wassenburg et al. (2013).

Based on these observations, and noting that "the LIA lasted for about 300 years and immediately followed the prolonged MWP (~550 years)," Abu-Zied and Bantan concluded that their findings were "indicative of "a quasi-cyclical natural climate variability," which would thus suggest the Earth's current period of warmth to be merely a continuation of the natural climatic oscillation that had brought about the MWP and LIA, as well as the prior Roman Warm Period and subsequent Dark Ages Cold Period. And this impressive back-and-forth oscillation of the Earth's thermal climate suggests that there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about the Current Warm Period in which we find ourselves imbedded.

Cronin, T.M., Dwyer, G.S., Kamiya, T., Schwede, S. and Willard, D.A. 2003. Medieval warm period, Little Ice Age and 20th century temperature variability from Chesapeake Bay. Global and Planetary Change 36: 17-29.

Driese, S.G., Ashley, G.M., Li, Z.H., Hover, V.C. and Owen, R.B. 2004. Possible Late Holocene equatorial paleoclimate record based on soils spanning the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, Loboi Plain, Kenya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 213: 231-250.

Kaniewski, D., Van Campo, E., Paulissen, E., Weiss, H., Bakker, J., Rossignol, I. and Van Lerberghe, K. 2011. The medieval climate anomaly and the Little Ice Age in coastal Syria inferred from pollen-derived palaeoclimatic patterns. Global and Planetary Change 78: 178-187.

Lamb, H.H. 1977. Climate: Present, Past and Future: Climatic History and the Future, vol. 2, Methuen, London, UK.

Ljungqvist, F.C. 2010. A new reconstruction of temperature variability in the extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere during the last two millennia. Geografiska Annaler Series A: Physical Geography 92: 339-351.

Quamar, M.F. and Chauhan, M.S. 2013. Signals of Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age from southwestern Madhya Pradesh (India): A pollen-inferred Late-Holocene vegetation and climate change. Quaternary International 325: 74-82.

Wanner, H., Beer, J., Butikofer, J., Crowley, T.J., Cubasch, U., Fluckiger, J., Goosse, H., Grosjean, M., Joos, F., Kaplan, J.O., Kuttel, M., Muller, S.A., Prentice, I.C., Solomina, O., Stocker, T.F., Tarasov, P., Wagner, M. and Widmann, M. 2008. Mid- to late Holocene climate change: An overview. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 1791-1828.

Wanner, H., Solomina, O., Grosjean, M., Ritz, S.P. and Jetel, M. 2011. Structure and origin of Holocene cold events. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 3109-3123.

Wassenburg, J.A., Immenhauser, A., Richter, D.K., Niedermayr, A., Riechelmann, S. and Fietzke, J. 2013. Moroccan speleothem and tree ring records suggest a variable positive state of the North Atlantic Oscillation during the Medieval Warm Period. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 375: 291-302.

Posted 13 November 2015