2016-06-17. Rising temperatures and humans were a deadly combo for ancient South American megafauna.
By Lizzie Wade, Science.
2016-01-19. Early Agriculture Has Kept Earth Warm for Millennia. By Sarah Stanley, Earth & Space News (EoS; AGU).
2015-07-08. Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years.
M. Sigl et al, Nature.
2015-01-27. Long dry spell doomed Mexican city 1,000 years ago.
By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center.
2012-11-09. Development and Disintegration of Maya Political Systems in Response to Climate Change | by Douglas J. Kennett et al, Science Magazine: Vol. 338 no. 6108 pp. 788-791. Editor's description: Climate has affected the vitality of many different societies in the past, as shown by numerous records across the globe and throughout human history. One of the most obvious and spectacular examples of this is from the Classic Maya civilization, whose advanced culture left highly detailed records of all aspects of their existence between 300 and 1000 C.E. Kennett et al. (p. 788; see the cover) present a detailed climate record derived from a stalagmite collected from a cave in Belize, in the midst of the Classic Maya settlement. The fine resolution and precise dating of the record allows changes in precipitation to be related to the politics, war, and population fluctuations of the Mayans. -|- Abstract: The role of climate change in the development and demise of Classic Maya civilization (300 to 1000 C.E.) remains controversial because of the absence of well-dated climate and archaeological sequences. We present a precisely dated subannual climate record for the past 2000 years from Yok Balum Cave, Belize. From comparison of this record with historical events compiled from well-dated stone monuments, we propose that anomalously high rainfall favored unprecedented population expansion and the proliferation of political centers between 440 and 660 C.E. This was followed by a drying trend between 660 and 1000 C.E. that triggered the balkanization of polities, increased warfare, and the asynchronous disintegration of polities, followed by population collapse in the context of an extended drought between 1020 and 1100 C.E. Read the full article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6108/788 [subscription needed]
2010 Dec 6. Did Climate Change Drive Prehistoric Culture Change? By
Michael Balter, Science. Excerpt: A new
study finds a strong correlation between changing climate and changing
culture in the prehistoric United States…
...The team found that nearly all of the transitions
between one cultural period and the next occurred at times of ecological
and environmental changes…
...The authors don't claim that climate change directly
drove cultural change, but they do argue that prehistoric humans
periodically "adjusted their tool kits" in response to climate changes…
2009 November 2. In
the Mediterranean, Killer Tsunamis From an
Ancient Eruption. By William
J. Broad, The NY Times. Excerpt:
eruption of the Thera volcano in the Aegean
Sea more than 3,000 years ago produced killer
waves that raced across hundreds of miles of
the Eastern Mediterranean to inundate the area
that is now Israel and probably other coastal
sites, a team of scientists has found.
The team, writing in the October issue of Geology,
said the new evidence suggested that giant tsunamis
from the catastrophic eruption hit “coastal
sites across the Eastern Mediterranean littoral.”
are giant waves that can crash into shore, rearrange
the seabed, inundate vast areas of land and
carry terrestrial material out to sea.
The region at the time was home to rising
in Crete, Cyprus, Egypt, Phoenicia and Turkey.
For decades, scholars have suggested that the
giant eruption, just 70 miles from Crete, might
have brought about the mysterious collapse of
Minoan civilization at the peak of its glory....
2009 July 24. An
Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up. By
Elisabeth Rosenthal, The NY
Times. Excerpt: XINGU
NATIONAL PARK, Brazil — As
the naked, painted young men of the Kamayurá tribe
prepare for the ritualized war games of a festival,
they end their haunting fireside chant with
a blowing sound — “whoosh, whoosh” — a
symbolic attempt to eliminate the scent of fish
so they will not be detected by enemies. For
centuries, fish from jungle lakes and rivers
have been a staple of the Kamayurá diet,
the tribe’s primary source of protein.
But fish smells are not a problem for the warriors
anymore. Deforestation and, some scientists
contend, global climate change are making the
Amazon region drier and hotter, decimating fish
stocks in this area and imperiling the Kamayurá’s
very existence. Like other small indigenous
cultures around the world with little money
or capacity to move, they are struggling to
adapt to the changes.
...The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
says that up to 30 percent of animals and plants
face an increased risk of extinction if global
temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees
Fahrenheit) in coming decades. But anthropologists
also fear a wave of cultural extinction for
dozens of small indigenous groups — the
loss of their traditions, their arts, their
2008 November 7. Rise
and Fall of Chinese Dynasties Tied to Changes
in Rainfall. By David Biello,
Scientific American. Excerpt:
In the late ninth century a disastrous harvest
precipitated by drought brought famine to China
under the rule of the Tang dynasty. By A.D.
nearly three centuries of rule—the dynasty
fell when its emperor, Ai, was deposed, and
the empire was divided. According to the atmospheric
record contained in a stalagmite, one of the
causes of that downfall may have been climate
"We think that climate played an important
role in Chinese history," says paleoclimatologist
Hai Cheng of the University of Minnesota, a
member of the scientific team that harvested
and analyzed the stalagmite from Wanxiang Cave
in Gansu Province in northwest China. The stalagmite
reveals, for example, that the vital rains of
the Asian monsoon weakened at the time of the
downfalls of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties
over the past 1,810 years.
...Composed of calcium carbonate leached from
dripping water, the 4.6-inch- (11.7-centimeter-)
long stalagmite preserves a record of rainfall
in this region, which is on the edge of the
area impacted by the Asian monsoon. The region
gets less rainfall when the monsoon is mild
and more when it is strong...
These periods of strong and weak rains, when
compared with Chinese historical records, coincide
with periods of imperial turmoil or prosperity....
In fact, the collapse of the Tang Dynasty coincides
with that of the Mayan civilization—both
due to extreme drought. "We have demonstrated
that the cave record correlates well with many
other records, including the Little Ice Age
in Europe, temperature changes [across the]
Northern Hemisphere, and major solar variability,"
2008 August 31. For
the first time in human history, the North
Pole can be circumnavigated. By
Geoffrey Lean, The Independent. Excerpt:
Open water now stretches all the way round the
Arctic, making it possible for the first time
in human history to circumnavigate the North
Pole... New satellite images, taken only two
days ago, show that melting ice last week opened
up both the fabled North-west and North-east
passages, in the most important geographical
landmark to date to signal the unexpectedly
rapid progress of global warming.
Last night Professor Mark Serreze, a sea ice
specialist at the official US National Snow
and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), hailed the publication
of the images...as "a
historic event", and said that it provided
further evidence that the Arctic icecap may
now have entered a "death spiral".
Some scientists predict that it could vanish
altogether in summer within five years, a process
that would, in itself, greatly accelerate.
...scientists...have long regarded the disappearance
of the icecap as inevitable as global warming
takes hold, though until recently it was not
expected until around 2070.
Many scientists now predict that the Arctic
ocean will be ice-free in summer by 2030 – and
a landmark study this year by Professor Wieslaw
Maslowski at the Naval Postgraduate School in
Monterey, California, concluded that there will
be no ice between mid-July and mid-September
as early as 2013....
Summer 2007. Forest Magazine. Thirsting
for Water. By Allen Best.
Excerpt: ...The dust
traveled far, even to New York City. In Kansas,
Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado, where the Dust
Bowl was most severe,
the roiling clouds were deadly. The young and
old, even the formerly
robust, succumbed to pneumonia. The luckier
ones, the quitters,
abandoned the dryland farms ... and migrated
Several decades of wet weather had supported
the widespread plowing
of grasslands in a semi-arid climate. Then came
drought, lasting the
better part of the decade. In all, about a third
of a million people
left the Great Plains. It was, until Hurricane
Katrina, the greatest
population displacement in the United States
caused by an
The Dust Bowl, say climatologists, is unlikely
to occur again.
Farmers and government scientists learned much
from the experience
about how to farm the land-and where not to.
But drought most
certainly will return, perhaps even more harshly.
And turning to the
American Southwest, ...experts say new evidence
reveals a clearer
picture of extended and sometimes severe droughts
in the past 1,100
years that very well may reappear-this time
with an overlay of hotter
temperatures caused by increased levels of greenhouse
effect these human-caused emissions will have
on precipitation is
still uncertain. On the matter of temperature,
however, nearly all
the computer models reach one conclusion: It
will get hotter, much
hotter, in places like Tucson, Colorado Springs
and Reno. And
hotter-even if precipitation stays the same-means
drier. In other
words, the "average" of the future
will resemble what in the past we
...WHAT THE TREES SAY
...Climates of the past can be documented in
various ways, but one of
the most important methods is by studying tree
rings, a scientific
discipline called dendrochronology. ...
What these tree rings say is that the Southwest
was far more arid in
the past. ... A period from 800 to 1300 A.D.
was generally more arid
and punctuated by what paleoclimatologists call
lasted thirty years. Archaeologists think that
one of the final
megadroughts, from about 1270 to 1300, may have
partly caused the
Ancestral Pueblo (also called the Anasazi) to
cliff-dwelling communities at Mesa Verde in
Colorado and Chaco Canyon