Sudden big chill

Earth’s climate cooled quickly at the beginning of the Little Ice Age, hundreds of years ago

By Stephen Ornes, 16:00 PM February 28, 2012

Climate scientists these days track rising temperatures and worry about global warming. But long ago, people faced a different shift in the weather. For a period of a few hundred years, ending around 1850, a chill called the Little Ice Age gripped much of the northern hemisphere. Temperatures fell, and glaciers grew in the mountains.

A series of four volcanic eruptions may have swiftly triggered that global cooling, scientists now report.

“We’ve been able to identify the beginning of the...

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