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      2500 years of European climate variability and human susceptibility.

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          Abstract

          Climate variations influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution paleoclimatic evidence. We present tree ring-based reconstructions of central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~250 to 600 C.E. coincided with the demise of the western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Such historical data may provide a basis for counteracting the recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Science
          Science (New York, N.Y.)
          American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
          1095-9203
          0036-8075
          Feb 04 2011
          : 331
          : 6017
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland. buentgen@wsl.ch
          Article
          science.1197175
          10.1126/science.1197175
          21233349
          02b69d39-d46b-45b0-95d6-3f6ede58a7a4
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