Deep Atlantic Temperature Changes Require Centuries

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New research by Geoffrey Gebbie uses proxy data to show that deep Atlantic waters require several centuries to respond to changes in sea surface temperature. As such, deep ocean waters initially cooled during the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and the cooling of the Little Ice Age was not felt at the sea floor for hundreds of years. The trophic cascades of oceanic ecosystems make these findings of particular interest for historical climatologists studying maritime environments. Read the full article here

Volume 5, Issue 1 of the CHN Newsletter Published

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Nicholas Cunigan, our newsletter editor, has published the latest issue of our Climate History Newsletter. Inside, you’ll find project updates - including exciting news about - along with notices of upcoming events, links to important online articles, and our usual list of new scholarship, featuring books that should greatly advance our field.

Download the issue by clicking here.

Svalbard's Climate History

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Two new pieces of research profile the climate history of the island of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. An article by Dagomar Degroot outlines how changes in the amount of local sea ice alternately facilitated or hindered conflict between Dutch and English whalers in the area, demonstrating how climate change played out on a local scale. Wesley Farnsworth’s recent dissertation provides a detailed overview of glaciation on the island during the Holocene, suggesting in particular that the Little Ice Age brought about quite dramatic advances for glaciers on the island. Read more in Dr. Degroot’s article here, or Dr. Farnsworth’s dissertation here

Spanish Archival Documents as Sources for Historical Climatology



A new article by Francisco Saulo Rodríguez Lajusticia profiles the usefulness of various Spanish archival sources for understanding climatic events including drought, floods, storms, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Drawing attention to various types of documentation and archival repositories where they can be found, it offers a point of entry for new scholars looking to study climatic trends in Spain, southern Europe, and anywhere else affected by the same climate patterns. Also included is an appendix of several documents reprinted in full. Read the full article here.

New Online Database of Chinese Sources for Climate History

A new open-access article in Scientific Data presents the REACHES climate database based on historical documents of China. This database of thousands of records, principally from the Ming and Qing periods, electronically publishes and encodes many sources previously available only in compilations that were difficult to access or search. The article explains the type of records available and some of the difficulties of interpretation they present.


Depopulation in the Americas and Climate Forcing

Land use and population change in the early post-contact Americas

Land use and population change in the early post-contact Americas

A recent article published in Quaternary Science Reviews offers an updated view on the effect of indigenous depopulation in the Americas on the global climate. Reviewing 119 regional studies, it points  a decline in atmospheric carbon of 3.5 ppm due to the regrowth of secondary forests in areas previously used for agriculture that were abandoned after indigenous populations shrank. The authors point to this event as one of the earliest anthropogenic climate interventions. Read the full text here.

Freshwater Mussels as a Source of Climate Data

Growth curves for three species of mussel analyzed in the study.

Growth curves for three species of mussel analyzed in the study.

A new paper in Ecological Indicators outlines the opportunities in using freshwater mussels as a climate proxy. Although using data from shells is a well-established practice, the study’s authors draw attention to alternative methods for noninvasive measurement. These measurements are annually banded and have the best response during warmer months, offering scientists the opportunity to create high resolution proxy records. Read the full paper here