Climate change skeptics take heed: A new analysis of growth rings in European trees suggests that warming and cooling trends may have played a part in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.

prolonged drought, cold snaps, and other climate changes that coincided with historical upheavals, from the barbarian invasions that brought about Rome’s collapse to the Black Death that wiped out much of medieval Europe.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st Century, last year proved a continuation of a decades-long warming trend for the world’s climate, Justin Gillis reports at the New York Times: 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year on record, and also was the wettest.

Weather-wise it was a tumultuous year, Gillis says, with record-breaking snowstorms in the U.S., a heat wave in Russia and flooding around the globe. And this year is starting with a weather oddity as well, Stephanie Pappas notes at Every state but Florida had snow on the ground this week–even Hawaii.

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