Detailed Chronology of Late
Holocene Climatic Change

James S. Aber

Table of Contents
Medieval optimum Medieval glaciation
Little ice age End of LIA
Wine harvests References

The following detailed chronology of late Holocene climatic and historic events is based primarily on Le Roy Ladurie (1971), Grove (1988), Savage (1995), Nesje and Dahl (2000), and other sources as noted.

Medieval climatic optimum

Medieval glaciation

Little Ice Age

1816: Coldest single year on record in many places in Europe and North America, following the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. U.S. postage stamp depicts ice cutting in winter.

End of the Little Ice Age

Wine harvests of
western Europe

Phenology is the study of seasonal dates of plant growth phenomena, such as flowering or ripening in fruit trees or grape vines. The date at which grapes ripen is mainly a function of summer temperature; warm, sunny weather results in an early wine harvest, and vice versa. Good historical records of the annual wine harvest have been compiled from towns in western Europe (France and Switzerland) by historians interested in the impact of climate on human activities (Le Roy Ladurie 1971).

The following chronology indicates a close correspondence between wine harvest dates and glacier advances during the Little Ice Age. Grape yield correlates most closely with mid-summer temperature. Early wine harvests generally coincided with glacier retreats; late harvests were times of glacier advances. However, glacier responses usually lagged 5-7 years behind the climatic changes indicated by wine harvest dates (Pfister 1981). Chronology of wine harvest dates and climatic conditions in western Europe is based on Le Roy Ladurie (1971).


Remember: send your comments and questions via e-mail to the instructor.

Glossary or references.

Return to icehome or schedule.
ES 331/767 © J.S. Aber (2014).