The Roman Warm Period, or Roman Climatic Optimum, was a period of unusually warm weather in Europe and the North Atlantic that ran from approximately 250 BC to AD 400.
Theophrastus (371 – c. 287 BC) wrote that date trees could grow in Greece if they were planted, but that they could not set fruit there. That is the case today, which suggests that South Aegean mean summer temperatures in the 4th and 5th centuries BC were within a degree of modern temperatures. That and other literary fragments from the time confirm that the Greek climate then was basically the same as it was around AD 2000. Dendrochronological evidence from wood found at the Parthenon shows variability of climate in the 5th century BC, which resembles the modern pattern of variation.
The phrase "Roman Warm Period" appears in a 1995 doctoral thesis. It was popularized by an article published in Nature in 1999. More recent research, including a 2019 analysis based on a much larger dataset of climate proxies, has found that the putative "Roman Warm Period", along with other warmer or colder pre-industrial periods such as the "Little Ice Age" or the "Medieval Warm Period" were regional phenomena and not globally coherent episodes.
A 1986 analysis of Alpine glaciers concluded that the period AD 100-400 period was significantly warmer than the periods that immediately preceded and followed. Artifacts recovered from the retreating Schnidejoch glacier have been taken as evidence for the Bronze Age, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods.
Deep ocean sediment
A 1999 reconstruction of ocean current patterns, based on the granularity of deep ocean sediment, concluded that there was a Roman Warm Period, which peaked around AD 150.
An analysis of oxygen isotopes found in mollusk shells in an Icelandic inlet concluded in 2010 that Iceland experienced an exceptionally warm period from 230 BC to AD 40.
- Climate of ancient Rome
- Holocene climatic optimum – A warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years BP
- Medieval Warm Period – Time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region lasting from c. 950 to c. 1250
- Hubert Lamb
- Maunder Minimum
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The Roman warm period though it has been suggested was responsible in part for advances in civilization, also had a dangerous side.
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