Declining temperature has been thought to explain the abandonment of Norse settlements, southern Greenland, in the early 15th century, although limited paleoclimate evidence is available from the inner settlement region itself. Here, we reconstruct the temperature and hydroclimate history from lake sediments at a site adjacent to a former Norse farm. We find no substantial temperature changes during the settlement period but rather that the region experienced a persistent drying trend, which peaked in the 16th century. Drier climate would have notably reduced grass production, which was essential for livestock overwintering, and this drying trend is concurrent with a Norse diet shift. We conclude that increasingly dry conditions played a more important role in undermining the viability of the Eastern Settlement than minor temperature changes.
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Zhao, Boyang; Castañeda, Isla S.; Salacup, Jeffrey M.; Thomas, Elizabeth K.; Daniels, William C.; Schneider, Tobias; de Wet, Gregory A.; and Bradley, Raymond S., "Prolonged Drying Trend Coincident with the Demise of Norse Settlement in Southern Greenland" (2022). Geosciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.