Vikings Lived In A Warm Greenland Climate

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Despite the many books, TV series, and movies that depict Vikings as robust people that lived without much struggle in subzero temperatures, the reality was different, according to a new study. Recent research, published a couple of days ago in the journal Geology, revealed that Vikings lived in a warm Greenland Climate, different from the commonly-accepted belief that they were living in freezing temperatures.

In order to reach this conclusion, the scientists from Northwestern University reconstructed southern Greenland’s climate record over the past 3,000 years. They found that between 985 and 1450 BC, when the Vikings were living in the regions, according to historians, Greenland was boasting a warmer climate than we know it today.

“People have speculated that the Norse settled in Greenland during an unusually, fortuitously warm period, but there weren’t any detailed local temperature reconstructions that fully confirmed that. And some recent work suggested that the opposite was true. So this has been a bit of a climate mystery,” said Yarrow Axford from Northwestern University.

Vikings Lived In A Warm Greenland Climate

For their study, the researchers studied lake sediment collected from near Norse settlements, and they analyzed a series of lake fly species trapped inside the before-mentioned sediments. By examining the oxygen isotopes from the exoskeletons of the insects, the scientists reconstructed the climate model of past Greenland.

“The oxygen isotopes we measure from the chironomids record past lake water isotopes in which the bugs grew, and that lake water comes from precipitation falling over the lake. The oxygen isotopes in precipitation are partly controlled by temperature, so we examined the change in oxygen isotopes through time to infer how temperature might have changed,” said Everett Lasher.

“Unlike warming over the past century, which is global, Medieval warmth was localized. We wanted to investigate what was happening in southern Greenland at that time because it’s a climatically complex part of the world where counterintuitive things can happen,” added Axford. The scientists concluded that Viking lived in a warm Greenland climate, in temperatures of about 10 degrees Celsius.


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