Asian tree rings explain historical plague outbreaks in Europe

AThis trunk disk belonged to a juniper tree older than 1000 years in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. (large version) Photo: Jan Esper (University of Mainz, Germany)n interdisciplinary consortium of researchers from Oslo University and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, for the first time, demonstrate that climate-driven plague outbreaks in Asia were repeatedly transmitted over several centuries into southern European harbors. This finding contrasts the general believe that the second plague pandemic “Black Death” was a singular introduction of Yersinia pestis from Asia to Europe in 1347 AD. Their results are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

Schmid BV, Büntgen U, Easterday WR, Ginzler C, Walløe L, Bramanti B, Stenseth NC (2015) Climate-driven introduction of the Black Death and successive plague reintroductions into Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA doi: 10.1073/pnas.1412887112

WSL Press Release