Using voluminous data left behind by our ancestors, modern scientists have discovered a correlation between volcanic activity and periods of bitterly cold weather in Ireland. They uncovered this connection while studying climate records produced by Irish monks between the years 431 and 1649 AD.
A team of scientists, led by historical climatologist Francis Ludlow from Harvard University, poured over an ancient collection of written records known as the Irish Annals. These notebooks were originally designed to track religious celebrations and observances. But over time, they were expanded to include other interesting information, including reports on social, cultural and political events, natural disasters and weather-related developments.
The Irish Annals Reveal Ancient Knowledge
Fortunately, the Irish Annals have been preserved for posterity. This has given modern historical researchers invaluable access to contemporary writings from a distant and otherwise obscure era. The Annals have revealed useful information about the society that produced it, but until Ludlow’s team came along no one had studied their weather and climate reports closely.
This is unfortunate, because the Annals turned out to be a goldmine of fascinating and enlightening climate-related data. Ludlow and his fellow researchers were particularly interested in reports of unusually cold or snowy conditions, marked by plunging temperatures, heavy icing of lakes and rivers, or frequent blizzards.
With 40,000 entries spread out over a period of 1,218 years, the climate historians had quite a daunting task to finish. When they were done, they’d identified approximately 70 blistering outbreaks of seriously cold weather, none of which would be expected during a typical Irish winter.