Black Death caused ‘Ice Age’ in centuries that followed

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Researchers from Utrecht University believe the medieval great plague caused Europe’s temperatures to fall, making humanity’s impact on climate change earlier than previously thought.

The team from the Netherlands estimated land use changed around 1347, when the Black Death arrived, which would have caused an agricultural crisis; trees then flourished on land no longer being cultivated. Tests on pollen and leaves in the southeast Netherlands suggest these millions of trees would have absorbed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, producing a cooling effect in the next few centuries. This minor ‘Ice Age’ in European history lasted for around 300 years from 1500. The scientists included Dr Thomas van Hoof, who stated: ‘Between AD 1200 to 1300, we see a decrease in stomata and a sharp rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, due to deforestation we think.’ The research is published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology; other scientists suggest oceanic, solar, or volcanic reasons for the lower average temperatures.

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