MWP - Greenland Today + 700s-900s weather in words

meieval warm period eat your heart out!

During the summer, South Greenland fully lives up to its Danish name, Green Land, as this is the most fertile part of the country. In fact most of the flora of Greenland grow in this particular region. The winter climate is relatively mild, and summer temperatures reaching 16-18°C are not uncommon. Because of these conditions, the economic life of this area is also very different from the rest of Greenland, with sheep farming and agriculture playing an important part. If you take a boat trip along the fjords you will see isolated sheep farms, some of which have paths and rough roads leading to them, while for others the only contact with the outside world is by boat or radio transmitter.

The sheep are rounded up in September, and some 20,000 lambs are taken on flat-bottomed boats to the slaughterhouse in Narsaq, one of the three sizeable large towns in South Greenland.

Many sheep farmers have built cabins near their farms, in which guests can stay for a day or two before they continue on foot to the next farm.

The abundant fertility of this region was also the reason why Eric the Red chose to live in South Greenland in around 985 AD, after he was outlawed from Iceland.

Your first encounter with large animals in Greenland usually takes place very soon after arrival. More than 3,000 musk oxen live in the area around Kangerlussuaq Airport and some of them can be seen in the immediate surroundings. A one-hour guided tour of the area will most likely include an encounter with these large, sedate animals.

Reindeer live all over the ice-free parts of Greenland, and you may be lucky to see a herd. Reindeer hide is very insulating, and if you decide to go on a dog-sledge tour you will have the chance to dress in clothes made from reindeer hide.


The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or Medieval Climate Optimum was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China [1] New Zealand [2] and other countries [3] [4][5] [6] [7][8] lasting from about AD 950–1250.[9] It was followed by a cooler period in the North Atlantic termed the Little Ice Age.


759/760 (Winter) A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) [ Some accounts have this as 761 .. usual dating problems ]. 1
763/64(Winter & later) The winter is noted as being 'severe' .. and was followed by a " long and terrible drought " .. in the spring/summer of 764: suggests abnormally persistent blocking / high pressure situation (at least, 'abnormal' in length of persistence in the same 'phase'), with the primary jet perhaps shunted well to the south. Some sources note 'great snow', with an 'intense' frost. In 'London Weather' entry, .... "one of the severest winters known in history". (Probably affected large areas of continental Europe, again suggesting a 'Scandinavian High' situation.) 1, 8
~770 - ~800 A period of higher frequency of cold winters (note: not necessarily every winter). This leads to the suggestion of blocking of the main Atlantic, westerly flow by often slow-moving, intense anticyclones, or an increased frequency of east or northeast flow with higher pressure to the north of these islands. This would tie in to a certain extent with the idea that Scandinavian exploration / raids were assisted by lack of 'westerly-storminess'. 1
798 (Winter) Ireland: snow - men & animals died. LWH
~800 (December) December 24th (original recorded as the 'Eve of Christmas', so presumably we must regard this as an 'Old Style' dating. Also, the exact year is subject to the same uncertainty as other events so long ago): gale: Great SW or W wind. Cities destroyed (!); Lamb has this comment in ref. 23: " The first recorded one of a series of storm floods .. which reduced the size of the island of Heligoland by more than half by the year 1300." LWH, 23
804 (March) March 17th: Ireland - Tornado(?): thunder, wind & lightning. '1010 men killed'. [ I wouldn't normally detail all 'tornado' events, but the death-toll warrants mention, and I do wonder given that over a thousand died, whether this was in fact a 'storm' event due to a major depression rather than a small-scale tornadic event.] LWH
817 (Winter) December 25th (presumably logged as 'Christmas Day'): Ireland - snow: many rivers & lakes frozen to February 22nd. [ Although only tied to Ireland, given the severity & length of the event, Britain must also have been affected. ] LWH
821/822 (Winter) A severe winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
827 Possible severe winter. Thames frozen for nine weeks. 8, LWH
844/845 (Winter) A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
855/856 (Winter) A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb); Great ice & frost until Jan. 7th - rivers & lakes froze. 1, LWH
856 Ireland: gale: very great wind; woods felled. LWH
859/60 (Winter) A severe winter in England. 1, 8
873/874 (Winter) A cold winter. (according to Easton, in CHMW/Lamb); Scotland: specifically a cold winter - great frost from November to April; thaw brought floods. 1,LWH
880/881 (Winter) A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
892(?) (November) 11th November: Ireland - gale, many trees and houses fell. LWH
908 Possible severe winter. Most English rivers frozen for two months. 8,LWH
910 - 930 Extended droughts with regularity: also thought that the summer half-years were warm or very warm more often than not - some notably hot summers. 1
912/913 (Winter) A severe winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
917(Winter) Ireland: severe winter - Great snow. Lakes frozen. [ As elsewhere, implies a blocked pattern, with occasional 'Atlantic' incursions. Must have affected Britain as well I would have thought.] LWH
923 Possible severe winter. Thames frozen for 13 weeks. Year may be 928 or 929. 8,LWH
927/928 (Winter) A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
939/940 (Winter) A cold winter. (Easton, in CHMW/Lamb) 1
941(Winter) Ireland: cold - Lakes & rivers froze. [ I wonder if this belongs to the winter noted above? ] LWH
944 Possible severe gale/storm in London; many houses destroyed. 1500 houses "fell" (destroyed?): affected the whole of England. 8,LWH
946 - 948 England: drought - 'no rain for 3 years' (unlikely to have been "no" rain - more likely a marked shortage of rainfall / winter snowfall). LWH
955 (Summer) Wales: Hot summer. [ Must surely have affected other parts of Britain - indeed, the heat may have been 'exceptional', if the summer was notably hot as far west as Wales.] LWH
973 Thames flood in London. 8
974/75 (Winter) Probably a severe winter across Britain .. usual doubts about dates etc. Severe winter over whole of Europe until March 11th (OS). 1, 8, LWH
990's Extended droughts with regularity: also thought that the summer half-years were warm or very warm more often than not - some notably hot summers. 1
992 Ireland: Storm flood - tempest (high wind?) submerged island fort in one hour Wicklow. [ The way this is written up suggests that this was a 'storme surge' event, rather than necessarily due to heavy rain - though the latter may have played a part.] LWH
995(Summer) Summer cold throughout Europe; severe frost & ice (quite remarkable if true in July as given on this site!) LWH
998 Possible severe winter. Thames frozen for five weeks

Then LIA
Many hot summers.

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