Little Ice Age Likely Contributed To The Fall Of Eastern Roman Empire

Posted: Feb 11 2016, 12:11am CST | by , Updated: Feb 11 2016, 12:15am CST, in News | Latest Science News


Little Ice Age Likely Contributed to the Fall of Eastern Roman Empire
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A new research links 1,500 years old "Little Ice Age" to plague outbreak in Europe, fall of Roman Empire and expansion of Arab Empire

Climate change can have unbelievable effects on human civilization. The rise and fall in temperatures can even shape the rise and fall of empires.   

A new research links the century-long “Little Ice Age” to plague pandemic outbreak, fall of Roman Empire, expansion of Arab Empire and political upheavals in many other regions across the globe.

According to research, three major volcanic eruptions in the years 536, 540 and 547 AD led to immediate drop in temperatures and pushed the Northern Hemisphere into an unprecedented cooling phase.

Volcanoes can discharge large amount of sulfate aerosols particles which can block sunlight to enter Earth’s atmosphere and can affect global temperature for decades. 

Within five years of the onset of what researchers dubbed the “Late Antique Little Ice Age” a pandemic plague outbreaks swept through Mediterranean regions between 541 and 543 AD and killed millions of people in the Constantinople, the capital city of Roman and Latin Empires in subsequent years, suggesting that these events might have contributed to the decline of eastern Roman Empire.

“This was the most dramatic cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2000 years,” said lead author and dendroclimatologist Ulf Büntgen from Swiss Federal Research Institute.

“With so many variables, we must remain cautious about environmental cause and political effect, but it is striking how closely this climate change aligns with major upheavals across several regions.” 

The new study provides comprehensive analysis of the impact of climate change across Europe and Central Asia during this period. A team of researchers from various disciplines including climatologists, naturalists, historians and linguists linked small sets of information to each other and painted a much clear picture regarding the effects of climate change. 

Researchers found that volcanic eruptions probably affected food supplies, which resulted in the extreme shortage of food. The event was immediately followed by plague pandemic and ultimately these upheavals led to the demise of eastern Roman Empire.

Arab region, on the other hand, received more rain which allowed more vegetation to grow and this supposedly caused to expand Arab Empire in Middle East.

From cooler areas, several tribes migrated towards China which resulted in hostilities between nomadic groups and the local ruling powers in the steppe regions of northern China. An alliance between these populations and the Eastern Romans brought down the Sasanian Empire in Persia, the final empire in the region before the rise of the Arab Empire.

Keeping these events in mind, researchers suggest that The Late Antique Little Ice Age fits in well with all the transformations that took place in the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia during that time. And sudden climatological shifts can bring changes in political systems.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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