Documents reveal clues to ancient weather

April 30, 2012 at 7:01 PM
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MADRID, April 30 (UPI) -- Writings by Arab historians offer a chronology of climatic events in the Middle East from 816 to 1009, when cold waves and snow were normal, researchers say.

A team led by Spanish scientists has interpreted records written in Iraq that chronologically narrate social, political and religious matters but also mention climate. The researchers focused on ancient meteorological notes of the Iraqi city of Baghdad, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology reported Monday.

"We have recovered an interesting chronology of climatic events, such as droughts, floods, rain, frost, heat and cold waves as well as strong winds during the period between 816-1009 in the areas now known as Iraq and Syria" Fernando Dominguez-Castro of the University of Extremadura said.

The period had a high number of cold waves, he said.

"The period between 902 and 944 had a high number if we compare them to current weather data," he said.

Dominguez-Castro said six snowfalls occurred in the region during that period, while only one snowfall is known to have occurred "in our era," on Jan. 11 2008.

The documents reveal the cold climatic events in Baghdad were more frequent and more intense during the first half of the 10th century than those of today.

"The Arabic records are very useful for reconstructing the climate in eras and places about which we know very little," the researchers said.

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