Contextualizing Western Drought. April 18, 2016.
At the 2016 American Society of Environmental History conference in Seattle, I joined Linda Nash (University of Washington), Char Miller (Pomona College), and Libby Robin (The Australian National University) to contextualize Western drought in environmental, historical and cultural terms. ‘Western drought’ in this instance referred to the region that the US Drought Monitor classifies as ‘West’, where some areas are still experiencing ‘exceptional’ drought conditions. More
Did the Spanish Empire Change Earth's Climate? February 29, 2016.
Ask most people about climate change, and you will soon find that even the relatively informed make two big assumptions. First: the world’s climate was more or less stable until recently, and second: human actions started changing our climate with the advent of industrialization. More
A Conversation about Archaeology in the Arctic. January 17, 2016.
For the third episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot interviews two leading archaeologists of the medieval and early modern Arctic: Dr. Thomas McGovern of the City University of New York, and Dr. George Hambrecht of the University of Maryland College Park. More
Teaching Climate History in a Warming World. December 17, 2015.
This semester, I taught my first course devoted exclusively to the environmental history of climate change. The course was, as one of my senior auditors pointed out, unusually ambitious. Luckily, I had a group of brilliant, hard-working students who embraced its challenges. Their coursework included a fifteen-page essay that connected a change in past global or regional climates to an episode in human history. They had to find a topic and then use a primary source to make an argument about that topic. They needed to support their argument using a blend of scientific and humanistic scholarship. The results were impressive, and you can read some of the abstracts here. More
Assessing the Future During COP21. November 30, 2015.
This week, roughly 40,000 delegates from 147 nations gather in Paris for the twenty-first annual "Conference of Parties" (COP21) in the fight against climate change. For the first time, participating governments will seek a legally binding agreement on mitigating and adapting to climate change. Their ambition will be to ensure that average global temperatures do not rise more than two degrees Celsius above their preindustrial averages. However, this goal now faces at least four serious challenges. More
A Conversation with Sam White. November 17, 2015.
For the second episode of the Climate History Podcast, Dr. Dagomar Degroot interviews the co-founder and co-administrator of the Climate History Network: Dr. Sam White of Ohio State University. Professor White is one of the most innovative and respected environmental historians of the "Little Ice Age," a period of climatic cooling that, according to some definitions, affected most of the world from the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries. More
Lessons From the Storm that Wasn't. October 10, 2015.
Last week, millions of people across the eastern coasts of the United States and Canada faced a frightening prospect: landfall of a major hurricane to rival Sandy, or perhaps even Katrina. At noon on October 1st, Hurricane Joaquin churned over Samana Cay, the largest uninhabited island in the Bahamas, and perhaps the first land glimpsed by Columbus in 1492. More
Whatever Happened to the Global Warming "Pause?" September 2, 2015.
It is only September, but, absent a massive volcanic eruption or asteroid impact, 2015 will be, by far, the hottest year on the instrumental record. The culprit is a massive El Niño that is compounding the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s scorching heat will mean that the three hottest years on record will have occurred within the same five-year stretch: in 2010, 2014, and 2015. More
Featured Image, January 2016:
A map of impenetrable pack ice between Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya, drawn in the summer of 1676. The ice is far to the south of where it would be found today.
How Climate Change Has Affected History (Especially Religion). History News Network
Q&A: Author of 'Feminist Glaciology' Study Reflects on Sudden Appearance in Culture Wars Science Magazine
What We’re Doing to the Earth Has No Parallel in 66 Million Years, Scientists Say. Washington Post
Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries. New York Times
These Ancient Shipwrecks Hold a Hidden Message About Climate Change. Washington Post
Allan, Rob et al. “Toward Integrated Historical Climate Research: The Example of Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 7 (2016): 164–74. doi:10.1002/wcc.379.
Ayre, M., J. Nicholls, C. Ward, and D. Wheeler. “Ships’ Logbooks from the Arctic in the Pre-Instrumental Period.” Geoscience Data Journal 2 (2015): 53–62.
Boehm, O., J. Jacobeit, R. Glaser, and K.-F. Wetzel. “Flood Sensitivity of the Bavarian Alpine Foreland since the Late Middle Ages in the Context of Internal and External Climate Forcing Factors.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 19 (2015): 4721–34. doi:10.5194/hess-19-4721-2015.
Büntgen, Ulf, et al. “Cooling and Societal Change during the Late Antique Little Ice Age from 536 to around 660 AD.” Nature Geoscience advance online publication (February 8, 2016). doi:10.1038/ngeo2652.
Clarke, Joanne, et al. “Climatic Changes and Social Transformations in the Near East and North Africa during the ‘long’ 4th Millennium BC: A Comparative Study of Environmental and Archaeological Evidence.” Quaternary Science Reviews 136 (2016): 96–121. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.003.
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