The Medieval climate optimum
or Medieval warm period
was an unusually warm period in history lasting from about the 10th century
to about the 14th century
During this time wine grapes were grown in Europe up to 300 miles north of their present northerly growing limit. Also during this time, the Vikings took advantage of ice-free seas to colonize Greenland and other outlying lands of the far north. The period was followed by the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that lasted until the 18th century when the current period of global warming began.
Most the early research on the MWP and the LIA was done in Europe. Subsequently it has become unclear whether either were truly global phenomena. For example, the 1000 y temperature reconstruction of Mann et al  (http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/figspm-1.htm).
External links and references
- Vikings During the Medieval Warm Period (http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/vikings_during_mwp) - easy read
- The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period (http://earth.agu.org/revgeophys/mayews01/node5) impenetrably scientific
- American Heritage Dictionary (http://bartleby.com/61/34/M0193425) The period from about 1000 to 1400 in which global temperatures are thought to have been a few degrees above those of the preceding and following periods. The climatic effects of this period were confined primarily to Europe and North America. Also called Medieval Warm Epoch.
- THE "MEDIEVAL WARM PERIOD" (http://greenpeace.org/~climate/database/records/zgpz0231) Greenpeace article citing journal article: (M.K. Hughes and H.F. Diaz, "Was there a 'Medieval Warm Period?", Climatic Change, v.26, p.109-142, March 1994).
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