Wet summers may have contributed to devastation of Black Plague

A team of scientists, who have studied tree rings and medieval wooden architectural materials to determine the climate of the late Middle Ages, report that wet summers were a contributing factor to the disaster of the Black Death in the 14th century.

In an article for Quaternary Science Reviews, the experts, from the universities of Bonn, Gießen, and Göttingen, Büntgen and Esser, wrote that summers were wetter than they are today. "Annual growth rings provide us with an accurate indication of summer droughts for each individual year, dating back to late medieval times," adds Professor Dr Jan Esper of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "We think that our results will also be useful for historians, as it may possible to associate droughts with famines and perhaps even large-scale migration events," is the view shared by the climate researchers Büntgen and Esper.