A climate history of the Gulf of St. Lawrence region: a climatic reconstruction of the nineteenth century and discussion of its implications

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University of New Brunswick


The nineteenth-century settlement and development of the Gulf of St. Lawrence region took place during the end of a climatic epoch referred to by climate historians and scientists as the Little Ice Age, the temporal and geographic contours of which have been questioned by recent scholarship. This thesis examines the sources that help us to understand the climate of the Gulf of St Lawrence region in recent centuries. It suggests that in this region, the Little Ice Age ended around 1880. Data on annual temperatures and growing season temperatures reveal that the climate of the nineteenth century was characterized by a warming trend and by significant short-term fluctuations in the climate of the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. The vicissitudes of regional climate influenced the historic experience of settlement and development. This study explores the consequences of climatic variability for agriculture and transportation, and points to additional avenues of inquiry.