For marine animals capable of swimming, walking or flying heat is not a serious problem. They go somewhere else. Animals in lakes and rivers are in danger in a severe drought because water can evaporate, but lakes and rivers do not have the same depth of water and some animals survive. When lakes and rivers are frozen to the bottom no fish can survive.

Animals of all kinds are in my database because they are sensitive indicators of light, temperature, rain, snowfall, ice cover, speed and direction of water currents, and water chemistry. Some birds are annual migrants. Before the cold season starts these birds fly to warmer regions and return when spring arrives. Recordings of dates of their departure and arrival can tell us about climate changes in the past, present, and future. Severe storms push bird species very long distances. By mapping finds of exotic birds, one can reconstruct both direction and wind speed of such events.

In the past penguins have disappeared from the Antarctic not because of a warm climate, but because long cold periods forced them to migrate. Some adjusted to the warmer conditions in southern Australia and now live there. When the Antarctic ocean is ice-covered, penguins will not survive there — in the largest biological desert of the world — because they cannot get any food. It becomes critical when they have eggs and chicks. Their latest disappearance from the Antarctic lasted 900 years but they returned around 850 CE when global warming made it possible. Seals, walruses and whales in both polar oceans cannot get food when the sea is ice-covered, so their possibilities are migration or extinction. Similarly, polar bears are in danger of extinction when the Arctic ocean becomes ice-covered, but they can swim to warmer water.

My database includes information about cold as well as warm years and the ecological impact the weather had on plants and animals including people during the two latest millennia. Medieval chill periods were recorded in Icelandic manuscripts by of the number of starving polar bears invading the island. All animals, humans included, capable of moving will migrate when under severe stress, whatever its cause. My database has subregisters for uprisings and population migrations for the latest two millennia, and animal migrations are recorded for the same time period.

Courtesy of James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota, USA.

Carta Marina from 1539: northwest storms in the Arctic Ocean broke away shelf ice from southeast Greenland. Foraging polar bears were carried to Iceland by drift ice and came ashore at the north coast, where they had to be killed by the sparse local population. In very cold Medieval winters the ice was so thick and plentyful that the drift ice from Greenland surrounded Iceland so effectively that even the largest ships could not pass the drift ice barrier for weeks. To the right, two polar bears — URSI ALBI — outside Iceland's south coast. A third polar bear is attacking to the left of the red coat of arms.

Insects are extremely important for plant and animal life everywhere, in addition to being indicators for both dry and wet spells. Locusts cause hunger when they multiply and eat not only cultivated crops but everything that is green from chlorophyll. Termites living in the ground swarm at the beginning of the rainy season in the tropics thus presenting a fattening smorgasbord for owls, bats, snakes, geckos, and frogs.

Insects are also precise indicators of air temperature. Some beetles tolerate only a few tenths of one degree centigrade/Celsius in temperature change. But most importantly — insects are vectors for malaria and several other epidemic diseases killing millions of people annually. Animals of many types are parasites in and on other animals, including ourselves.

Because >70% of our planet is covered with oceans, lakes and rivers and so many people live close to the transition between land and water, fish and other fruits de mer play another important role with a bearing on our future. Data about fish and fishery through time you also will find here in the database under ANIMALS.

ANIMALS subregister (pages) 1116
Animals, 93 geographic areas 603
of which with >3 pages
Sweden 99
UK 19
China 18
Europe 15
Russia 10
India 9
Italy 9
Spain 9
Finland 8
France 8
Germany 8
Iceland 8
Mongolia 8
Turkey-Byzantine empire 8
Thailand 7
Mediterranean 6
Greenland 4
Ireland 4
Laos 4
Norway 4
Animals, 60 systematic entries
of which
Insects 145
Fish / fishing 122
Seals / dolphins / whales 55
Birds 44
Rodents 41
Wolves 14
Cow, elk, moose, deer 12
Horses 12
Sheep, goats 8
Felines, small 7
Snow worms 7