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The Great Frost in Ireland 1740-41


knocker
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Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    Rural Ireland in the 1730s still bore the scars of the revolutionary social changes of the previous century. Control over its productive sources, its grassland, woodland and rivers, was concentrated in relatively few hands, and they operated in a comparatively unregulated environment. Compared to the situation in neighbouring jurisdictions, little protected the poor or the marginalised from the actions of the powerful, be they be big Catholic tenant farmers or ‘improving’ Protestant Landlords.

     

    By the end of the 1730s signs of economic development were most evident in parts of Ulster and in the port cities of the south, conduits for the pastoral exports being shipped out to Europe and the Atlantic. The decade itself had been untypically mild and harvests generally good. But the economy was sluggish, with weak international prices. The return of maritime war in October 1739 (initially between Britain and Spain) depressed economic sentiment even further.

     

    And then along came disaster with the coldest winter in half a millennium. The Great Frost of 1739-40 affected much of northern Europe, beginning after Christmas with a week of extraordinary Siberian winds; exceptional low temperatures lasted for over six long weeks in Ireland and longer elsewhere. Without an accurate temperature record we can only speculate as to the exact temperature in the country but this was unambiguously the coldest event in anyone’s memory. Coming after a run of soft winters it caught people quite off-guard. The inland lakes of Ireland ice up two or three times a century, the tidal estuaries less often, but in those weeks in 1740 every waterway froze. Mill-wheels were completely halted, fuel where it could be extracted ran low, and employment came to a standstill. But the most sinister aspect of the frost was the impact it had on the food supplies and the livelihood of rural famies. The main winter foodstuff of most country people, the potato was destroyed within days; stored in the ground where it had been cultivated. In addition, there was huge loss of livestock. Cattle, horses and sheep were always wintered in the open; in many areas  they were decimated during the frost, with even greater mortality occurring during the spring as fodder supplies became exhausted.

     

    The frost lifted in early February but the abnormal weather had another another eighteen months to run; a dry spring became became a cold summer drought. The drought was really only broken in the autumn – by storms and blizzards, then floods I December. A second maverick winter followed with excepeptional snowfalls. The spring of 1741 was also very dry, followed by a blazing summer. Normality of sorts only returned in the autumn.

     

    It is estimated that 38% of the Irish population died during the crisis.

     

    The period 1740–1743 has been shown to be the driest period of the last 280 years, with the year 1740 the coldest recorded over the British Isles since comparable records began in 1659. The winter atmospheric circulation over the period 1739– 1744 was very unusual. The major features of the ‘normal’ pressure maps, i.e. the Iceland Low and the Azores High, were much weaker. The dominant feature was a continental or Scandinavian High. Its exact position determined the relative coldness of each winter and led to a sequence of dry winters. The circulation was less anomalous during the Julys of the period with most having near normal temperatures and rainfall totals.

     

    The year 1740 is all the more remarkable given the anomalous warmth of the 1730s. This decade was the warmest in three of the long temperature series (CET, De Bilt and Uppsala) until the 1990s occurred. The mildness of the decade is confirmed by the early ice break-up dates for Lake Malaren and Tallinn Harbour. The rapid warming in the CET record from the 1690s to the 1730s and then the extreme cold year of 1740 are examples of the magnitude of natural changes which can potentially be recorded in long series. Consideration of variability in these records from the early 19th century, therefore, may underestimate the range that is possible.

     

    The paper:

     

    UNUSUAL CLIMATE IN NORTHWEST EUROPE DURING THE

    PERIOD 1730 TO 1745 BASED ON INSTRUMENTAL AND

    DOCUMENTARY DATA

    P. D. JONES and K. R. BRIFFA

     

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/226043410_Unusual_Climate_in_Northwest_Europe_During_the_Period_1730_to_1745_Based_on_Instrumental_and_Documentary_Data

     

    Sources

    Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. Cork University Press. 2012.

     

    UNUSUAL CLIMATE IN NORTHWEST EUROPE DURING THE

    PERIOD 1730 TO 1745 BASED ON INSTRUMENTAL AND

    DOCUMENTARY DATA

    P. D. JONES and K. R. BRIFFA

    Edited by knocker
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    Posted
  • Location: glasgow
  • Weather Preferences: snowy winters hot summers
  • Location: glasgow

    Rural Ireland in the 1730s still bore the scars of the revolutionary social changes of the previous century. Control over its productive sources, its grassland, woodland and rivers, was concentrated in relatively few hands, and they operated in a comparatively unregulated environment. Compared to the situation in neighbouring jurisdictions, little protected the poor or the marginalised from the actions of the powerful, be they be big Catholic tenant farmers or ‘improving’ Protestant Landlords.

     

    By the end of the 1730s signs of economic development were most evident in parts of Ulster and in the port cities of the south, conduits for the pastoral exports being shipped out to Europe and the Atlantic. The decade itself had been untypically mild and harvests generally good. But the economy was sluggish, with weak international prices. The return of maritime war in October 1739 (initially between Britain and Spain) depressed economic sentiment even further.

     

    And then along came disaster with the coldest winter in half a millennium. The Great Frost of 1739-40 affected much of northern Europe, beginning after Christmas with a week of extraordinary Siberian winds; exceptional low temperatures lasted for over six long weeks in Ireland and longer elsewhere. Without an accurate temperature record we can only speculate as to the exact temperature in the country but this was unambiguously the coldest event in anyone’s memory. Coming after a run of soft winters it caught people quite off-guard. The inland lakes of Ireland ice up two or three times a century, the tidal estuaries less often, but in those weeks in 1740 every waterway froze. Mill-wheels were completely halted, fuel where it could be extracted ran low, and employment came to a standstill. But the most sinister aspect of the frost was the impact it had on the food supplies and the livelihood of rural famies. The main winter foodstuff of most country people, the potato was destroyed within days; stored in the ground where it had been cultivated. In addition, there was huge loss of livestock. Cattle, horses and sheep were always wintered in the open; in many areas  they were decimated during the frost, with even greater mortality occurring during the spring as fodder supplies became exhausted.

     

    The frost lifted in early February but the abnormal weather had another another eighteen months to run; a dry spring became became a cold summer drought. The drought was really only broken in the autumn – by storms and blizzards, then floods I December. A second maverick winter followed with excepeptional snowfalls. The spring of 1741 was also very dry, followed by a blazing summer. Normality of sorts only returned in the autumn.

     

    It is estimated that 38% of the Irish population died during the crisis.

     

    The period 1740–1743 has been shown to be the driest period of the last 280 years, with the year 1740 the coldest recorded over the British Isles since comparable records began in 1659. The winter atmospheric circulation over the period 1739– 1744 was very unusual. The major features of the ‘normal’ pressure maps, i.e. the Iceland Low and the Azores High, were much weaker. The dominant feature was a continental or Scandinavian High. Its exact position determined the relative coldness of each winter and led to a sequence of dry winters. The circulation was less anomalous during the Julys of the period with most having near normal temperatures and rainfall totals.

     

    The year 1740 is all the more remarkable given the anomalous warmth of the 1730s. This decade was the warmest in three of the long temperature series (CET, De Bilt and Uppsala) until the 1990s occurred. The mildness of the decade is confirmed by the early ice break-up dates for Lake Malaren and Tallinn Harbour. The rapid warming in the CET record from the 1690s to the 1730s and then the extreme cold year of 1740 are examples of the magnitude of natural changes which can potentially be recorded in long series. Consideration of variability in these records from the early 19th century, therefore, may underestimate the range that is possible.

     

    The paper:

     

    UNUSUAL CLIMATE IN NORTHWEST EUROPE DURING THE

    PERIOD 1730 TO 1745 BASED ON INSTRUMENTAL AND

    DOCUMENTARY DATA

    P. D. JONES and K. R. BRIFFA

     

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/226043410_Unusual_Climate_in_Northwest_Europe_During_the_Period_1730_to_1745_Based_on_Instrumental_and_Documentary_Data

     

    Sources

    Atlas of the Great Irish Famine. Cork University Press. 2012.

     

    UNUSUAL CLIMATE IN NORTHWEST EUROPE DURING THE

    PERIOD 1730 TO 1745 BASED ON INSTRUMENTAL AND

    DOCUMENTARY DATA

    P. D. JONES and K. R. BRIFFA

    Thankyou knocker tapadh leibh.

     

    Extremely interesting , fascinating how the climate may/has affected many of the great incidents of history throughout the world . 

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    Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    Thankyou knocker tapadh leibh.

     

    Extremely interesting , fascinating how the climate may/has affected many of the great incidents of history throughout the world . 

     

    You are not wrong there balmaha. The 17th century really encapsulates this. A brilliant book on the subject, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker.

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    Posted
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District South Pennines Middleton & Smerrill Tops 305m (1001ft) asl.
  • Location: Derbyshire Peak District South Pennines Middleton & Smerrill Tops 305m (1001ft) asl.

    Yes a great read there Knock.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near King's Lynn 13.68m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Hoar Frost, Snow, Misty Autumn mornings
  • Location: Near King's Lynn 13.68m ASL

    38% is almost inconceivable and a greater proportion than even the Gorta Mor a hundred years later. I think Russian volcanic activity was the culprit? Fortunately my own ancestors survived both disasters (amid many others of course).

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    Posted
  • Location: Surrey and SW France.
  • Location: Surrey and SW France.

    Thanks Knocker. That one is not available to read but one I have in my files gives a very detailed account of the consequences along with some reanalysis of the weather patterns.

     

    http://www.clim-past.net/9/1161/2013/cp-9-1161-2013.pdf

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    Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    Thanks Knocker. That one is not available to read but one I have in my files gives a very detailed account of the consequences along with some reanalysis of the weather patterns.

     

    http://www.clim-past.net/9/1161/2013/cp-9-1161-2013.pdf

     

    Thanks for that Nouska. It should be available to read as I downloaded it. It also give an analysis of weather patterns based on previously unpublished circulation charts by the late Hubert Lamb.

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    Posted
  • Location: Surrey and SW France.
  • Location: Surrey and SW France.

    Thanks for that Nouska. It should be available to read as I downloaded it. It also give an analysis of weather patterns based on previously unpublished circulation charts by the late Hubert Lamb.

     

    Indeed it is, got it on Firefox - a combination of an old IE not loading properly and an old duffer using it. :oops:

    Subtle differences in the synoptics between the papers; suppose it depends on which records/reports are used.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near King's Lynn 13.68m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Hoar Frost, Snow, Misty Autumn mornings
  • Location: Near King's Lynn 13.68m ASL

    From Brian Fagan's 'The Little Ice Age':

     

    "In late 1739, the NAO swung abruptly to a low mode. Blocking anticyclones shifted the depression track away from its decade-long path. Southeasterly air flows replaced prevailing southwesterlies. The semipermanent high-pressure region near the North Pole expanded southward. Easterly air masses from the continental Arctic extended westward from Russia, bringing winter temperatures that hovered near or below zero. Europe shivered under strong easterly winds and bitter cold for weeks on end."

     

    "For the first time, relatively accurate temperature records tell us just how cold it was. An extended period of below average temperatures began in August 1739 and continued unabated until September of the following year. January and February 1740 were 6.2C and 5.2C colder than normal (!). Spring 1740 was dry with late frosts, the following summer cool and dry. A frosty and very wet autumn led into another early winter. In 1741 the spring was again cold and dry, followed by a prolonged summer drought. The winter of 1741/42 was nearly as cold as that of two years earlier. In 1742, milder conditions finally returned, probably with another NAO switch. The annual mean temperature of the early 1740s in central England was 6.8C, the lowest for the entire period from 1659 to 1973."

    Edited by Yarmy
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    Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    Thankyou knocker tapadh leibh.

     

    Extremely interesting , fascinating how the climate may/has affected many of the great incidents of history throughout the world . 

     

    Still in Ireland and the rebellion of 1641-42.

     

    The cold weather started in October, just before the rebellion began, and it either killed or almost killed thousands of half naked Protestants as they tried to flee.

     

    The surviving accounts by those affected by the uprising record more deaths from snow and frost and extreme cold than directly from violence, indicating that the Little Ice Age at least doubled - and may have tripled - the number of Protestants who met an unnatural death in Autumn 1641.

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