26 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

[Courtesy of Brian, an annotation from 20 Mar, 1659/60]:
I came across a site that attempts to document weather related events during the time we are

Emilio  •  Link

[And from Bert Winther on the same day]:

Thank you, Brian. In an annotation for 3rd March, I expressed the hope that we would see Sam commenting on the unusual weather pattern in Europe during this time. Extremely low temperatures were observed over a decades-long period in the second half of the 17th century. Today, it is believed that the global cooling was caused by vulcanic activity outside of Europe and some historians refer to the period as

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Causes of the Little Ice Age

There's an interesting article over at the NASA Web site that blames sunspots for such climactic events as the Little Ice Age.

You can find the article here:

Surprisingly (and, to me anyway, counterintuitively), during the periods of the Sun

PHE  •  Link

Global warming?
Today, every extreme weather event in the UK, or elsewhere in the world, is associated by the media with global warming. However, the extremes that Pepys has already experienced by March 1660 and the list of events in Emilio's first link above show that weather extremes are nothing new. Such historical records are very important in assessing the arguments for and against Global Warming today.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

This section is probably not the place to debate current issues, I think.

Having worked in the energy industry for seven years, I'm sorely tempted to reply at length to PHE's post, but will instead point out that we should probably reserve these sections for information and commentary relating to Sam's day, rather than our own.

PHE  •  Link

A key interest of the diary is comparing the 1660s world with that of today - whether aspects that are very different or ones that have changed surprisingly little. A section on 'weather' would be of limited interest if confined to the day-to-day weather of Pepys's experience. The discussion on the Little Ice Age puts Pepys's experiences in the wider context of weather patterns that change over centuries. That discussion, and Pepys's experience puts our current obsession with Global Warming into some perspective. As with other subjects discussed on this website, we learn much about human nature, society and the world around us that is relevant today. I don't propose a lengthy debate on Global Warming, but think the observation is relevant.

dirk  •  Link

Mini ice age

An illustration of what the Low Countries (and probably most of Western Europe) looked like in winter at the time - Pieter Breugel 16th C.

Those of us who have crossed the channel to Holland or Belgium in the heart of winter will have noticed that as a rule rivers don't change into skate rings anymore nowadays...

vincent  •  Link

Britain heads for hottest year since 1659---latest prediction
"...the current 12 months will prove the hottest in the whole of the Central England Temperature Record, which goes back to 1659..."

PHE  •  Link

tony t. on Tue 9 Dec 2003, 10:28 am | Link

PHE  •  Link

Jenny Doughty on Tue 9 Dec 2003, 12:59 pm | Link
Regarding dendrochronology, recent discoveries seem to show that Sam is in the middle of a very happy period for people acquiring new violins, possibly caused by Europe being in the grip of the

PHE  •  Link

Kevin Sheerstone on Tue 9 Dec 2003, 11:17 am | Link
Warmest since 1659 - tony t. I try to keep up with the UK press via the internet, but I missed this topic entirely. I am wondering how

dirk  •  Link

Temperature in the 1600's

The source given for the temperature figures in the Central England Temperature Record are: 1659-1973 MANLEY (Q.J.R.METEOROL.SOC., 1974). Furthermore "daily records extend back to 1772 and monthly records to 1659" says:

The year average for 1660 was 9.08 degrees Celsius - as compared to 10.60 for 2002.

The fact that a rise with 0.60 degrees in the 1990's as compared to the average 1961-1990 is labeled an "anomaly" and taken very seriously by climatologists, implies that the 1.52 degrees difference between 10.60 (2002) and 9.08 (1660) represents a *huge* difference. These seemingly small differences in average temperatures stand for really important changes "on the ground".

By the way, Peter, the thermometer had already been invented and was used by Sam's time. For a history of this valuable instrument check:

dirk  •  Link

William Denham

Between 1697 and 1708 a William Denham was involved in some of the weather measurements now collected in the Central England Temperature Record. I wonder if he was related to Sir John Denham, and if so whether John (after all as a surveyor he must have had a scientific mind) also participated in collecting weather data - maybe even the ones we're referring to for 1660.


David Quidnunc  •  Link

One Datum: Vicar Josselin's perception:

David Quidnunc  •  Link

No polar bears

"One of the most important influences on the British climate is the Atlantic Ocean and especially the North Atlantic current which brings warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico to the United Kingdom by means of the global conveyor.

"This has a powerful moderating and warming effect on the UK climate. The North Atlantic Drift warms the climate of the UK to such a great extent that temperatures in winter would be about 10

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Surprisingly dry in London and Essex

"Parts of the United Kingdom are surprisingly dry - London receives less rain annually than Rome, Sydney or New York. In England it typically rains on about 1 day in 3 and even more in winter. The wettest seasons are the winter and autumn.

"Rainfall amounts can vary greatly across the United Kingdom and generally the further west and the higher the elevation, the greater the rainfall. [...] [T]he south east, east, north east and the midlands receive less than 700mm of rain per year.

"The county of Essex is one of the driest in the British Isles, with an average annual rainfall of around 600mm (24 inches), although it typically rains on over 100 days per year. In some years rainfall in Essex can be below 450mm (18 inches) -- less than the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem and Beirut."


Terry F  •  Link

The Little Ice Age (LIA)
was a period of cooling lasting approximately from the 14th to the mid-19th centuries, although there is no generally agreed start or end date: some confine the period to 1550-1850. This cooler period occurs after a warmer era known as the Medieval climate optimum. There were three minima, beginning about 1650, about 1770, and 1850, each separated by slight warming intervals. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

Terry F  •  Link

Emilio's citation [Courtesy of Brian, an annotation from 20 Mar, 1659/60]:
I came across a site that attempts to document weather related events during the time we are 'living in'. The author has pulled some quotes from Sam's diary. [moved to a new web-site] http://homepage.ntlworld.com/booty.weather/climat…

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, by Geoffrey Parker, Yale.
Review by Lisa Jardine

In 1647, at the height of the English civil war, King Charles I fled to the Isle of Wight, where he established a court in exile. Among the local gentry who attended him was Sir John Oglander, local landowner and member of parliament for Yarmouth. The weather was terrible. Oglander wrote in his diary: “This summer of the King’s being here was a very strange year in all His Majesty’s three kingdoms, if we duly consider the heavens, men and earth. I conceive the heavens were offended with us for our offence committed to one another for, from Mayday till the 15th of September, we had scarce three dry days together. His Majesty asked me whether that weather was usual in our Island. I told him that in this 40 years I never knew the like before.”

Oglander was convinced that the relentless rain, and the damage it was causing in terms of failed harvest and widespread flooding, were a mark of God’s displeasure with Englishmen for acts committed against nature: insurrection against their king, and citizens turning against one another in civil war.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

CLIMATOLOGISTS call it the Little Ice Age; historians, the General Crisis.

During the 17th century, longer winters and cooler summers disrupted growing seasons and destroyed harvests across Europe. It was the coldest century in a period of glacial expansion that lasted from the early 14th century until the mid-19th century. The summer of 1641 was the third-coldest recorded over the past six centuries in Europe; the winter of 1641-42 was the coldest ever recorded in Scandinavia. The unusual cold that lasted from the 1620s until the 1690s included ice on both the Bosporus and the Baltic so thick that people could walk from one side to the other....

The 17th century saw a proliferation of wars, civil wars and rebellions and more cases of state breakdown around the globe than any previous or subsequent age. Just in the year 1648, rebellions paralyzed both Russia (the largest state in the world) and France (the most populous state in Europe); civil wars broke out in Ukraine, England and Scotland; and irate subjects in Istanbul (Europe’s largest city) strangled Sultan Ibrahim.

Climate alone did not cause all the catastrophes of the 17th century, but it exacerbated many of them. Outbreaks of disease, especially smallpox and plague, tended to be more common when harvests were poor or failed. When an uprising by Irish Catholics on Oct. 23, 1641, drove the Protestant minority from their homes, no one had foreseen a severe cold snap, with heavy frost and snow at a time and in a place that rarely has snow. Thousands of Protestants died of exposure, turning a political protest into a massacre that cried out for vengeance. Oliver Cromwell would later use that episode to justify his brutal campaign to restore Protestant supremacy in Ireland.

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