In the years 535 and 536, several remarkable aberrations in world climate took place. They were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2 Millennia.
Including bizarrely low-temperatures, with snow fall during the summer months in some locations; widespread crop-failures and famine; greatly decreased levels of sunlight; and also causing geopolitical problems.
While it’s currently believed that the event was caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil formed either, due to a large volcanic eruption in the tropics, or the disintegration of a large amount of space-debris in the upper atmosphere, it is still unclear.Evidence does point towards the volcanic explanation though — owing to the presence of substantial sulfate deposits in glaciers around the world corresponding to the years in question.
There is some documented evidence from the time.
The Gaelic Irish Annals record the following:
“A failure of bread in the year 536 AD” – the Annals of Ulster
“A failure of bread from the years 536–539 AD” – the Annals of Inisfallen”
Further phenomena were reported by a number of independent contemporary sources:
Low temperatures, even snow during the summer (snow reportedly fell in August in China during the Northern and Southern dynasties, which caused the harvest there to be delayed) Crop failures
“A dense, dry fog” in the Middle East, China and Europe
Drought in Peru, which affected the Moche culture”
It caused famine in Ireland but also in other countries around the world.
Tree-ring analysis work done by the dendrochronologist Mike Baillie — of the Queen’s University of Belfast — has shown that there was “abnormally” low growth in Irish oaks in the 536 growing season. This was followed by a partial recovery and then another drop in growth in 542.
Tree-ring analysis of tree-stands in Sweden, Finland, California, and Chile, all confirm these findings.
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