Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Ancient writings reveal presence of aurora in 13th-century Canadian Arctic



Modern Norway, Iceland, and Greenland are subject to frequent displays of the aurora borealis. The aurora can be viewed on almost every clear night in the northern part of Iceland and southern Greenland, which lie in or near the auroral oval. Thus, it is surprising to find almost no mention of the aurora in medieval Norse chronicles or in the extensive Icelandic saga literature. Only one paragraph, in the “King's Mirror,” a Norwegian writing dating to about 1250 C.E., notes the occurrence of the aurora in Greenland. The author reports this as hearsay and not from personal knowledge. For a fuller discussion of the Norse literature, see Brekke and Egeland [1983].