The Impact of a Six-Year Climate Anomaly on the "Spanish Flu" Pandemic and WWI

More, Alexander F. ; Loveluck, Christopher P. ; Clifford, Heather ; Handley, Michael J. ; Korotkikh, Elena V. ; Kurbatov, Andrei V. ; McCormick, Michael ; Mayewski, Paul A.

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The H1N1 "Spanish influenza" pandemic of 1918-1919 caused the highest known number of deaths recorded for a single pandemic in human history. Several theories have been offered to explain the virulence and spread of the disease, but the environmental context remains underexamined. In this study, we present a new environmental record from a European, Alpine ice core, showing a significant climate anomaly that affected the continent from 1914 to 1919. Incessant torrential rain and declining temperatures increased casualties in the battlefields of World War I (WWI), setting the stage for the spread of the pandemic at the end of the conflict. Multiple independent records of temperature, precipitation, and mortality corroborate these findings.</p>

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