Although interdisciplinary scholars have firmly established the existence of an early modern Little Ice Age, methodologies that link climate, weather, and human history remain in their infancy. Journals kept during three Dutch expeditions to find a northeast passage through the Arctic between 1594 and 1597 demonstrate the complexity of establishing relationships between climate and human affairs. They confirm scientific reconstructions of the Little Ice Age in the Arctic, but they also record counterintuitive relationships between regional climate and local environments. These local manifestations of climate change shaped the course of the Dutch quest for a northeast passage in the 1590s, with important ramifications for Dutch economic and intellectual history. The journals reveal that historians must carefully establish distinct relationships between shifting environmental conditions and human activities across different scales before attempting to tie climate change to human history.