Who would have thought that this happened 1,500 years ago and caused the collapse of the mighty Roman Empire.
The ancient Roman Empire – one of the most powerful civilizations in the history of mankind was destroyed around 1500 years ago. And according to a new study, the cause of this collapse is linked to climate change.
Specifically, researcher Ulf Büntgen and his colleagues at the Swiss Federal Research Institute suggest that a 125-year-old mini ice age caused famine and diseases that killed millions of people and caused political upheaval that led to the collapse of the entire empire.
To determine this, Büntgen examined the grain of wood on tree trunks in the Altai Mountains – a mountain range bordering Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan – and compared it to the grain of wood in the European Alps.
By evaluating the grain of wood in the Altai Mountains, scientists know that 1,500 years ago an “ice age” occurred.
After calculations, scientists have determined that an ice age has occurred since 535 AD. The temperature then dropped significantly after three large volcanic eruptions in 536, 540 and 547. Scientists say tons of ash containing sulfur molecules blocked sunlight, causing the global heat level to drop.
Graph of heat fluctuations from the year 535
The large amount of ash caused the Mini Ice Age for over a century, severely affecting the food supply of humans.
In addition, the plague of Justinian in 541 weakened the army of the empire and destroyed millions of people during this period.
According to Büntgen, this ice age was one of the most significant temperature drops in the northern hemisphere over the past 2,000 years. He said this is one of the factors to study when climate change can cause political upheaval on a global scale.