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Summary of 1000 Years
Image of Mesa Verde Cliff PalaceIn the past 1000 revolutions around the sun, the Earth has experienced a wide variety of human activity against a background of climate change and variability. In Climate History the focus is on how drought-- some lasting several decades-- impacted cultures such as the Ancient Pueblo peoples who inhabited parts of the American Southwest a millennium ago.

In Climate Science, we look into how paleoclimatologists are using clues from proxy records such as tree rings and layers of sediment and ice to piece together past climate patterns and events over the course of a millennium, far beyond the limited records from modern instruments such as rain gauges and thermometers. And Resources offers numerous links to paleoclimate resources relating to the past millennium and millennial scale climate variability.

The Millennium Timeline
Years A.D.
Human Population (est. in millions)
Human Exploration and Activities
(1.6 Billion)

Image of coastal stormSevere weather and climate events have increasing impact on society and environment as population grows from ~254 million to six billion people between the years 1000 and 2000.


Between 1849 and 1905, the most prolonged period of drought conditions in 300 years occurred in Arizona.


Image of Little Ice Age"Little Ice Age" chills much of Europe, with glaciers growing in the Alps threatening some mountain communities and shortening growing seasons throughout Europe. (Folland, 2001)


Slave trade, plantations and global commerce contribute to changes in land cover, influencing regional climate. Atmospheric CO2 levels are 6% below average Holocene level according to Crowley, 2000 .


Image of Anasazi pottery from NPSSevere multi-decadal "mega-drought" hits American southwest, severely impacting native peoples who had only recently been invaded by Spanish conquistadors. "Lost Colony" Drought also effects settlement of Jamestown, VA, 1587-89.


Sailors from Europe and the Middle East learn to navigate the world's oceans using seasonal wind patterns later called "trade winds". The "Little Ice Age" begins to chill much of Europe.


Possibily linked to wetter, colder climates, Bubonic plague kills up to 20,000 people a day in Cairo. (See Stothers. 1999). Europe also hard hit. Empires thrive in Mali, Java and Uzbekistan. Minimum of solar activity during 14th Century.


Image of volcanoe1259- Evidence of major volcanic event-- likely the largest during entire Holocene-- found in ice cores on both poles, (Crowley, 2000 ).
Great Drought (1276-1299) in American Southwest found in tree ring data impacted Ancient Pueblo and other native cultures. See Climate History.


Called "The Century of the Axe" by some historians because of the ambitious building efforts and clearing of woods for agriculture in Europe and elsewhere. Changes in land cover eventually contribute to changes in regional climate.


~1000- Leif Eriksson, returning to Viking settlements in Greenland from Europe, is blown off course and lands on the North American continent. Medieval Warm Period in Europe begins around 1000 and lasts until approximately 1350 AD.

Also see: What is Variability? and Overview of Climate Processes.
Images from NPS, USGS and NOAA

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