The climate catastrophe that contributed to the unification of Scotland and England

A perfect storm hit Scotland in the latter years of the 17th century.

According to a new scientific study in the Journal of Volcaolocy and Geothermal Research, the period between 1695 and 1705 was the coldest decade in Scotland in 800 years.

The abrupt change in weather led to one of the worst humaniterian crisis in Scotland throughout the “little ice age“.

The researchers proposes that volcanic eruptions in the tropics and Iceland has contributed to the dramatic fall inn temperatures. They also claim that the weather phenomenon NAO (north atlantic oscillations) also could have contributed to lower temperatures.

Could there be a connection between the Scottish climate crisis, and our warm winter in 2020? Read more about the NAO phenomenon that gave us the varm winter of 2020 here! (only in Norwegian per now).

Temperature developments

The researchers have used tree rings as a proxy to reconstruct temperatures over a long time period. Scotland has not seen low temperatures as the early 1200s. We also see that today’s relatively warmer temperatures are equivalent as the temperatures around 1300.

Reconstruction of average yearly temperatures anomalies for Scorland, from the study (D’Arrigo et al.)

The world’s longest instrumental temperatures data series (Mean Central England) supports the study’s finding. In the period around 1700 the data series shows considerably lower temperatures than the total period average.

It should be reasonable to presume that these lower temperatures in Central England correlates to lower temperatures in Scotland.

Data gathered from

The consequenses

The low temperatures come at an especially bad moment for the scots. The study highlights failed colonial adventures and bad economic policies during the same period. This made Scotland vulnerable. This together with a significant crop failure, led to the death of 10-15% of the population.

What happened? See our interactive graph to see the development in temperatures month by month since 1659 here! (Which months saw significantly lower temperatures, and what could that mean for the agricultural sector?)

The catastophe led to the unification with England and ment that Scotland lost its fight for continued independence. To unify with a more robust England was seen as necessary given the grave situation.

The establishment of the union of 1707 coincided with an abrupt change in weather, with considerably milder temperatures. In the period after the catastrophe followed much better times. The new united Great Britain led the world into the industrial revolution, and a period of unimaginable increase in welfare followed.

If the weather had not worked against Scotland in it’s vulnerable periode, would the country managed to stay independent? If so, would England have managed to lead the world into the industrial revolution?

The weather seems to be a driving force for both catastrophes and progress.