Re: Your book review in PERSPECTIVES, page 222, of Morton's

Jan de Koning (
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 09:42:20 -0400

At 09:31 PM 24/08/98 -0500, Glenn R. Morton wrote:
>At 08:29 AM 8/24/98 -0400, Bill Hamilton wrote:
>>Burgy wrote
>>>At least two other possibilities exist, and I'd think that either of them
>>>could also explain the evidence. First, is there evidence that winters
>>>then were like winters now -- i.e. as cold as winters now? If not --
>>>perhaps the climates then were warm enough to make clothing unnecessary.
>>>Second -- hair does not fossilize (I think) -- perhaps H. Erectus had
>>>sufficient body hair to survive winter climes as bears, elks, deer, etc.
>>>do now!
>>Glenn's response seems to cover the issue of fur/hair quite adequately, but
>>I didn't see anything about the climate in Siberia, Georgia and Germany
>>during the periods in question. I would expect that some evidence about
>>the climate ought to exist, and I wouldn't be surprised to find it in
>>Glenn's book -- he was pretty thorough. But how about it Glenn: what
>>evidence is there for the climates in Germany, Siberia and Georgia during
>>the times wee're talking about?
>I have the data for Beijing and Berlin. Imagine spending a winter outside
>naked with no fur in January in Berlin. The temperature record for Berlin
>and Beijing are only for the past 100 years, which has been one of the
>warmest in several centuries, probably since 800-1000 AD. (reference upon
>request). In the past 100 years, the average high temperature in January in
>Berlin Average high 35 F
> Average low 26 F
> coldest ever -11 F
>If you assume that these temperatures occur once a century, then that would
>kill off a lot of naked people. Given a good 30 mph wind and the wind chill
>would be in the -40 F range. Fire and clothing were a must.
>For Beijing, it was warmer.
>Beijing Average high 34 F
> Average low 17 F
> coldest ever 1 F
>However the average nightly low is at or below freezing for 5 months in
>Beijing. Does anyone think they could survive such a winter naked?
>Now, once again, this has been one of the warmest centuries and during
>glacial ages, the cold must have been worse. The Little ice Age was a
>near-glaciation of the earth which occurred between 1200 and 1700 AD.
>"The Maunder minimum corresponds almost precisely with the coldest
>excursion of the 'little ice age', a period of unusual cold in Europe from
>the 16th century through the early 19th century. In the coldest extremes
>of that period the average temperature was about one degree Celsius colder
>than it is now, according to the British climatologist Hubert H. Lamb. In
>that period the Alpine glaciers advanced farther than they had since the
>last major glaciation 15,000 years ago. In that period too the Norse
>colony in southwestern Greenland perished to a man, cut off from the rest
>of the world by pack ice that year after year failed to thaw."~John A.
>Eddy, "The Case of the Missing Sunspots", Scientific American, May, 1977,
>p. 87

>There were food riots in Japan (History: A Climatological View", Mechanical
>Engineering, April, 1980, p. 62)
>Glaciers wiped out long-established European cities.
>"Near the end of the sixteenth century the glaciers advanced rapidly and
>about 1605 they overran settlements which had been occupied since the
>beginning of history."~C. E. P. Brooks, Climate Through the Ages, (New
>York: Dover Publications, 1970), p. 301
>"A bizarre occurrence - serious for the individuals concerned - presumably
>resulting from the great southward spread of the polar water and ice was
>the arrival about the Orkney Islands a number of times between about 1690
>and 1728, and once in the river Don near Aberdeen, of an Eskimo in his
>kayak."~H. H. Lamb, Climate, History and the Modern World, (New York:
>Methuen, 1982), p. 209.
>Apparently, the cold moved far to the south during that time. They say
>that if you look at medieval paintings of the Baltic made in winter, it was
>totally frozen over. If I recall the last time that happened was 1926.
>They say you could ice skate form Denmark to Norway.
>During the Wurm glaciation in FRANCE, the temperature was believed to be
>-20 C.
> "A more universal pattern is the tendency for sites to occur predominantly
>along the south or south-east facing flanks of valleys, in preference to
>the north or north-west-facing slopes. The explanation in this case is
>almost certainly related to simple climatic factors. South-facing
>locations inevitably benefit from the maximum exposure to temperatures in
>all seasons of the year. Protection from winds was no doubt an equally
>important factor, in an area where the prevailing wind direction is mainly
>from the west, and where the coldest and harshest winds come mainly from
>the north. This would no doubt have been an especially crucial factor
>during the winter months when local temperatures during the colder periods
>of the Upper Pleistocene could well have fallen below -20 C. Even today
>local temperature differences of up to 25 C can occur between the north and
>south facing slopes of certain river valleys in the Perigord." ~ Paul C.
>Mellars, The Neanderthal Legacy, (Princeton: University Press, 1996), p.250
>The Neanderthals were smart enough to plan for the warm side of the valley.
>As to Siberia today it gets down to 100 F in the winters See Critchfield,
>General Climatology, p. 210. Even larger areas get down to -50
>F.(everything north of 50 deg. latitude.This region extends from the Urals

Just a question, Glenn, is it possible, that there were longtime changes in
climates? I read somewhere that now the North Pole ice cap is melting from
the bottom up, due to global warming. Connected with that would then come
a change of the Gulf stream and thus a severe cooling of Europe, the
article said. Could something like that have happened in the past.
Is there an indication of a change in the angle of the "axle" of the earth?
Is it true that the polarity of the earth changed? If so, how come, and
does it involve climate change? What about the "Ice Age"?

I find these questions interesting, but don't have the time to really
research them. I don't even remember where I read about the above
suggestions in my questions.

Jan de Koning
Willowdale, Ont.