The Medieval Climate Anomaly and Little Ice Age in Chesapeake Bay and the North Atlantic Ocean
Cronin, Thomas M.
Thunell, Robert C.
Dwyer, Gary S.
Saenger, Casey P.
Willard, D. A.
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A new 2400-year paleoclimate reconstruction from Chesapeake Bay (CB) (eastern US) was compared to other paleoclimate records in the North Atlantic region to evaluate climate variability during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA). Using Mg/Ca ratios from ostracodes and oxygen isotopes from benthic foraminifera as proxies for temperature and precipitation-driven estuarine hydrography, results show that warmest temperatures in CB reached 16–17 °C between 600 and 950 CE (Common Era), centuries before the classic European Medieval Warm Period (950–1100 CE) and peak warming in the Nordic Seas (1000–1400 CE). A series of centennial warm/cool cycles began about 1000 CE with temperature minima of ~ 8 to 9 °C about 1150, 1350, and 1650–1800 CE, and intervening warm periods (14–15 °C) centered at 1200, 1400, 1500 and 1600 CE. Precipitation variability in the eastern US included multiple dry intervals from 600 to 1200 CE, which contrasts with wet medieval conditions in the Caribbean. The eastern US experienced a wet LIA between 1650 and 1800 CE when the Caribbean was relatively dry. Comparison of the CB record with other records shows that the MCA and LIA were characterized by regionally asynchronous warming and complex spatial patterns of precipitation, possibly related to ocean–atmosphere processes.
This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 297 (2010): 299-310, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.08.009.