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Monday 11 December 2017

Old Irish texts help to assess extreme weather

Fergus Black

IRISH monks and scholars who recorded extreme weather events over the centuries have now helped scientists to trace the impact of volcanic eruptions on the world's climate.

Ancient medieval texts contained in what are known as the Irish Annals reveal a link between extremely cold weather and the eruption of volcanoes. At monastic centres across Ireland, monks chronicled significant events like feast days, obituaries and details of extreme cold and heat.

An international team of researchers – which include Irish scientists – has now compared the entries in the ancient annals with ice core data indicating volcanic eruptions.

Their report, which is published in the journal, Environmental Research Letters, shows that of the 48 volcanic eruptions over a period of 1,219 years, 38 of them were associated closely in time with extreme weather events identified in the Irish texts.

"The large volume of accurately reported astronomical phenomena has led scholars to conclude that recording of natural phenomena in medieval Ireland was both systematic and sustained," according to the report, whose co-authors include Drs Francis Ludlow and Dr Mark Hennessy of TCD.

Dr Ludlow said the Irish record was "so rich" that it took him over seven years to extract and process all of the relevent weather reports.

Irish Independent

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