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What Went On When it Got Warm? Examining the Roman Warm Period 300 BCE-300 CE Carole L. Crumley Stockholm Resilience Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "What Went On When it Got Warm? Examining the Roman Warm Period 300 BCE-300 CE Carole L. Crumley Stockholm Resilience Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Went On When it Got Warm? Examining the Roman Warm Period 300 BCE-300 CE Carole L. Crumley Stockholm Resilience Centre

2 Goals of IHOPE: Map the record of biophysical and human history Query correlations: question methods, use multiple lines of evidence Expect multiple causation Facilitate interdisciplinary cooperation Understand the dynamics of linked human/Earth history Calculate rates of change in system variables Calibrate models against historic data What are the emergent properties? Examine options for the future of humanity What lessons emerge? Examples: Path dependence, initial conditions, the multiple roles of diversity Paleoengineering: enduring solutions to enduring problems IHOPE Integrated History and Future of People on Earth

3 IHOPE Case Studies Culture and Economy of SW USA Native American polities and the Drought of the 1300s CE Environment And Society in the Maya region of Central America 1000 BCE to 1000 CE Environment and Society in Europe from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE

4 Bracketing the Roman Warm Period When and Where? Temporal extent: The Roman Warm Period occurred between ca. 300 BCE and 300 CE; the 1000BCE – 1000CE time frame captures colder, wetter periods on either side Spatial extent: E-W From the Ural mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, N-S from Scandinavia to North Africa We have only begun to investigate its global extent; we plan to study teleconnections to adjacent regions and around the globe Study Area

5 How is the Roman Warm Period Defined? Greenland Ice Core Estimated Temperature A warm, stable period lasting ca. 600 years, roughly paralleling Roman hegemony Camp Century shows the clearest signal, but record complicated by changes in ice sheet elevation More recent Greenland temperature reconstructions also show high temperatures during Roman period Rapid decline begins after 100 AD, falling to the Vandal Minimum, which coincides with the Migration Period (the Dark Ages) Alley QSR 2000

6 Climate History the Northern Hemisphere and Europe

7 Land Use and Emission History The Bronze Age began 3300BC in the Middle East, thence to India, Europe, China, and Korea The Iron Age began in the Near East 1300BC, thence to India and Europe, China, Japan; sub-Saharan Africans independently invented iron technology Roman period industrial production was widespread (ceramics, metals, glass, etc) On three continents, deforestation for metallurgy, agriculture and wood products began before the Iron Age and accelerated in the Roman period

8 Estimated Position of the Temperate-Subtropical Ecotone BCE 300 BCE-300 CE 500 CE-900 CE Roman Warm Period Vandal Minimum Crumley EA 3:3, 1993


10 Hallstatt (ca BCE) which offers evidence of great wealth in an elite society with long-distance contacts and influence La Tène (ca BCE) which ushers in a revolution (regime shift?) in social and political organization and settlement, with an emblematic decorative style The European Iron Age

11 At its greatest extent, the Roman Empire controlled the Mediterranean Sea and contiguous lands covered nearly six million square kilometers had an estimated population of sixty-five million people a quarter of the planets population was under the sway of Rome The Power of Rome


13 Roman Imperial Management and Climate Change mono-cropping: many regions were forced to produce grain to feed cities erosion, loss of fertility: result of practices to increase short-term yields deforestation: the need for agricultural land and for ships timber erratic climate devastated harvests after ca. AD 270 subtropical species: vulnerable in temperate regions farmland abandoned due to high taxes, low yields and without maintenance reverted to scrub and forest

14 The Migration Period CE: Germanic peoples CE: Slavic and Arabic peoples CE: Magyar, Turkic, and Viking peoples The Vandal EventThe Dark AgesBarbarian Invasions climatologists Petrarch (14th c.)J. J. Bury

15 Isotopic Record Lake Holzmaar, Western Germany High human impact through Iron Age and Roman period disappears with transition into Migration period. Isotopic record suggests that this is a response to colder and/or wetter climatic conditions causing a retreat of people from the catchment area. Lucke et al 2003

16 Fluvial Geomorphology Lahn River, West-Central Germany Peaks in tree trunk deposition coincide with and increased fluvial activity, climate deterioration in the Migration period. Urz, 2002

17 Questions for Study What is the chronology of the Roman Warm Period in Europe? What are the drivers of the RWP? NAO? Other? Are there anthropogenic drivers? Is the RWP confined to the Mediterranean and temperate Europe? What characterizes the period on other continents? (Gulf of Mexico/Yucatan Peninsula, Eurasian steppe) What is the nature of transitional periods that preceded and followed the RWP? It appears that the beginning of the Roman Warm Period may have occurred in a couple human generations (Dansgaard-Oeschger?) An inquest on collapse: κ to to α in a coupled CAS

18 The Roman Warm Period and Global Change Studies plentiful data from both qualitative and quantitative disciplines a period about which relatively little environmental data are available, despite abundant political, economic, and cultural data possibilities for scale-up to N hemisphere or global potential for modeling future ecological and cultural refugia in a warming world an enthusiastic scholarly community, representing social sciences, humanities, and biophysical sciences popular appeal, offering didactic opportunities

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