A new article in the journal Environmental History offers insight into classical Chinese sources on climate history. Although Chinese annals contain a wealth of weather data, putting this data to use meaningfully requires a careful understanding of the context in which the often-qualitative data were produced. As Pei and Forêt argue, Confucian “heaven-human induction theory,” in which the heavens communicated their displeasure with society or a ruler by sending weather omens, provides the fullest account of their intellectual underpinning. Read more about it here.
A new report about ongoing research into the historical relationship of whaling and climate change in the Arctic was released by an interdisciplinary team from Denmark, Norway, and Greenland. Their report correlates the decline of whaling near Greenland with changes in sea ice cover and climate regimes locally and in the rest of Europe. At the same time, changes to whaling practices near Svalbard may have driven whales or whalers to new areas. Further developments promise new perspective on these charismatic creatures and how they, alongside humans, adapted to climate change. Read more about the project here.
The newly-minted Palgrave Handbook of Climate History promises to be a valuable tool to climate historians across all regions, periods of study, and disciplinary backgrounds. Providing fresh analyses of methods and source materials, updated overviews of regional chronologies, investigations into how climate and society interact, relevant case studies, and a history of climate science, the book is comprehensive in its scope and will prove an invaluable resource for researchers.
Nicholas Cunigan, our newsletter editor, has published the latest issue of our Climate History Newsletter. We've changed our format: now, we organize things by volume and issue, rather than by season. Our content, however, overflows with the usual array of article and podcast links, publication citations, working group and conference updates, and much more.
Download the issue by clicking here.
A new multiproxy study of pollen data from Darjeeling, India offers insight into the region’s climate history. Climate during the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age was wet in the eastern Himalayas, and the Indian Summer monsoon during the Little Ice Age and post-Little Ice Age stand in marked contrast with peninsular India. The monsoon also increased in strength between 1367 and 1802 CE. Although gaps in the data prevent a finer-grained analysis, this study suggests centennial-scale variations in the monsoon that could shed important light on both the forcing mechanisms governing the Indian Summer Monsoon and the lives of those who have historically depended on it.
Read the full article here.
A new paper in The Holocene provides a fresh perspective on climate history in its analysis of paleosols on the southern coast of Crimea. Linking archaeological evidence, lake sediments, and dendrochronologies with the soil record, this study offers a finer resolution chronology than records reliant solely on the soil record can provide. The study shows that soil formation was asynchronous across the late Holocene, including a period of unequaled precipitation during the late bronze age with potential consequences for human settlement in the region. Notably, the influence human settlement is not reflected in the soil record and climate change bears sole responsibility for the asynchronous development of soils. Read the full article here.
A compelling new book informed by cutting-edge climate science narrates showing how climate change and ENSO have profoundly shaped Australia’s past over a variety of time scales. Joëlle Gergis explores Australia’s prehistoric, colonial, and modern history, exploring not only how the climate affected human behavior, but also how humans understood and planned for it. Both engaging and accessible, Sunburnt Country should make an enjoyable read for audiences of all levels.