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      2500 years of European climate variability and human susceptibility.

      Science (New York, N.Y.)

      growth & development, Trees, Temperature, Seasons, Quercus, Humans, History, Medieval, History, Ancient, History, 21st Century, History, 20th Century, History, 19th Century, History, 18th Century, History, 17th Century, History, 16th Century, History, 15th Century, Europe, history, Epidemics, Climatic Processes, Climate Change, Civilization, Agriculture

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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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          Most cited references 20

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          Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030.

          Investments aimed at improving agricultural adaptation to climate change inevitably favor some crops and regions over others. An analysis of climate risks for crops in 12 food-insecure regions was conducted to identify adaptation priorities, based on statistical crop models and climate projections for 2030 from 20 general circulation models. Results indicate South Asia and Southern Africa as two regions that, without sufficient adaptation measures, will likely suffer negative impacts on several crops that are important to large food-insecure human populations. We also find that uncertainties vary widely by crop, and therefore priorities will depend on the risk attitudes of investment institutions.
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            Climate change and human health: present and future risks.

            There is near unanimous scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity will change Earth's climate. The recent (globally averaged) warming by 0.5 degrees C is partly attributable to such anthropogenic emissions. Climate change will affect human health in many ways-mostly adversely. Here, we summarise the epidemiological evidence of how climate variations and trends affect various health outcomes. We assess the little evidence there is that recent global warming has already affected some health outcomes. We review the published estimates of future health effects of climate change over coming decades. Research so far has mostly focused on thermal stress, extreme weather events, and infectious diseases, with some attention to estimates of future regional food yields and hunger prevalence. An emerging broader approach addresses a wider spectrum of health risks due to the social, demographic, and economic disruptions of climate change. Evidence and anticipation of adverse health effects will strengthen the case for pre-emptive policies, and will also guide priorities for planned adaptive strategies.
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              Persistent positive North Atlantic oscillation mode dominated the Medieval Climate Anomaly.

              The Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) was the most recent pre-industrial era warm interval of European climate, yet its driving mechanisms remain uncertain. We present here a 947-year-long multidecadal North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) reconstruction and find a persistent positive NAO during the MCA. Supplementary reconstructions based on climate model results and proxy data indicate a clear shift to weaker NAO conditions into the Little Ice Age (LIA). Globally distributed proxy data suggest that this NAO shift is one aspect of a global MCA-LIA climate transition that probably was coupled to prevailing La Niña-like conditions amplified by an intensified Atlantic meridional overturning circulation during the MCA.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.1126/science.1197175
                21233349

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