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Climate Change and the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island

by Lewis Loflin

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The severe climate change known as the Little Ice Age (1600-1900) may be connected with severe drought in the American Southeast in the Carolinas and Virginia near that time.

The Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in Dare County in present-day North Carolina was an enterprise financed and organized by Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 16th century to establish a permanent English settlement in the Virginia Colony. Between 1585 and 1587, several groups attempted to establish a colony, but either abandoned the settlement or disappeared. The final group of colonists disappeared after three years elapsed without supplies from the Kingdom of England during the Anglo-Spanish War, leading to the continuing mystery known as "The Lost Colony". One possible explanation is that they were assimilated into the local indigenous tribes. (Wiki)

The Lost Colony and Jamestown Droughts by Stahle, David W., Cleaveland, Malcolm K., Blanton, Dennis B., Therrell, Matthew D., and Gay, David A.

A drought reconstruction, stretching back to 1185, indicates that the most severe growing season drought and the most severe three year period of drought in 800 years coincided with the disappearance of the Roanoke Island Colonists.

In addition, a reconstruction of the severe seven year drought (1606-1612) in Jamestown, accounted from documented historical records, likely played a part in the high death rate in the colony. Only 38 of the original 104 colonists survived the first year (1607) at Jamestown and of the 6000 people that came to the settlement between the years of 1608-1624, only 3400 survived. Most reportedly died of malnutrition.

Ref. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought/drght_james.html

Posted September 6, 2009 by Lewis Loflin


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