2018-08-02. Severe Drought May Have Helped Hasten Ancient Maya’s Collapse.

posted Aug 5, 2018, 1:09 PM by Alan Gould
By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. For GSS Life and Climate chapter 12. Excerpt: Chemical signatures from sediments in lake cores reveal that the centuries-long drought during the fall of Classic Maya civilization was worse than researchers had imagined. ...From about 250 to 900 CE, the Maya thrived in what’s known as its Classic period. During this time, the Maya built cities with plazas and multistory temples, devised a complex calendar system, and housed an urban population density that rivals Los Angeles County today. But then, sometime between the 8th and 9th centuries, many of the bustling Maya cities fell silent. By around 900 CE, a number of the grand cities had been abandoned. Scholars have many theories about what went wrong. ...A study unveiled today in Science offers ...another answer: a severe drop in rainfall that coincided with the Maya downfall. At the end of the Classic period in the northern reaches of the Maya civilization, “rainfall decreased on average by about half and up to 70% during peak drought conditions,” lead author Nick Evans, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge, told Eos. Given the finding, “our research provides another piece of the puzzle for understanding the Maya collapse,” he said. ...If drought did help lead to the Maya downfall, could it be an alarm bell for severe droughts that humans face today? ...Depending on how society copes with environmental changes, outcomes can be very different. ...in an abstract sense, there are lessons to be learned about the sensitivity and resilience of society to climate change.... https://eos.org/articles/severe-drought-may-have-helped-hasten-ancient-mayas-collapse