Climate History Network

A network of interdisciplinary scholars who study climate change

Climate History Network Discussion at ESEH 2015

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Dagomar Degroot 2015

By Andrea Williams, Colorado State University

On July 1, 2015, the Climate History Network met over lunch in Versailles, France, in conjunction with the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) biennial conference. Seven members of the network attended this informal event, including organizers Dagomar Degroot and Sam White. We focused on the following issues: recruitment and expanding the network, conferences and other forms of collaboration, administrative tasks, and funding.

Recruitment and Expanding Membership:

We would like to expand the Climate History Network’s global reach by recruiting members from beyond the Climate History and Environmental History community. Indeed, the network aims to provide a useful resource for anyone whose research can be enriched by historical climate data. In the meeting, members suggested several ways to broaden the network, including: increased collaboration with the International Commission on the History of Meteorology, encouraging current members to recruit colleagues, bolstering the network’s presence at conferences in relevant areas of history and science, and structuring and enriching that presence through the facilitation of panels, member meetings, forums, and workshops.

Conferences and Collaboration:

The CHN organizers are open to ideas for community expression, collaboration, and exchange. Based on our discussion, it seems most practical at this point for the Climate History Network to work through established conferences, rather than organizing an independent conference. We discussed the idea of organizing a web-based, video conference event or forum, which is appealing because of its low cost and the potential for recording sessions and sharing them via the CHN website.

Administrative Tasks:

We hope to begin regular publication of a Climate History Network e-newsletter, which will be sent to members and posted on the website. We also plan to establish and maintain a listserv (possibly through H-Net) that will allow us to better manage and reach members. At the meeting, the organizers encouraged graduate students and other members to take on these and other administrative tasks as a way to get more involved in the academic community and gain valuable (and marketable) experience.


We discussed potential sources of funding for CHN initiatives as well as using the network to advertise and facilitate access to funding sources for climate history research. The organizers are currently targeting a few grant opportunities for the network, and they are seeking input into how potential funding might be used. The CHN website currently provides links to relevant fellowship and grant opportunities, but we would like to expand this list and keep it current by encouraging members to share opportunities as they arise.

We thank those present for a great meeting, and we look forward to seeing many more of you at ICHG this coming week. If you were not able to attend the ESEH conference and you will not be at the ICHG conference, but have suggestions for how we can continue to develop our network, feel free to contact Dagomar.

Written by Dagomar

July 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Posted in In the News

Climate History Meetings at the 2015 ESEH and ICHG – Please Attend!

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This is just to remind all members and anyone else who might be interested that there will be a meeting at the International Conference of Historical Geographers, lunchtime on Tuesday July 7th, to discuss plans for future events and initiatives in climate history and historical climatology.  Lunch at the conference is provided with registration and the meeting is free and open to all registered attendees.  There will also be a more informal gathering at the European Society of Environmental History, at lunchtime on July 1, following session 4-C (on climate change and Canadian history).  Please contact Dagomar Degroot or Sam White, or meet us at session 4-C, if you are interested.

Written by Sam White

June 19, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Posted in In the News

Paleoclimate-Dendroclimatology Workshop for Pre-Modernists

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round-logo[180]Paleoclimate-Dendroclimatology Workshop for Pre-Modernists
September 15-17, 2015 | Princeton, New Jersey (USA)

Beginning this fall, a new workshop series will be held at Princeton University to focus on dendroclimatology and the reconstruction of past temperature, precipitation and environmental changes from natural and documentary archives. The intensive workshops are considered entry-level and geared towards History and Archaeology graduate students and junior faculty, from Princeton as well as from other universities, and require no previous knowledge of the subjects.  The workshop instructors will be renowned scholars Jürg Luterbacher from Justus Liebig University, Giessen (Germany), and Ulf Büntgen of the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

Interested parties should submit the following:
1. A letter of application with statement of interest (up to 500 words)
2. CV
3. A letter of recommendation, sent directly to Jayne Bialkowski, PIIRS
All information should be emailed to Jayne Bialkowski at PIIRS at Princeton University by 5 p.m., July 20, 2015. The subject line of the email should read, “Application for Dendroclimatology Workshop.” No applications will be considered after this time. Successful applicants will be notified in late July.

The workshop is free. Princeton University will cover the costs of accommodations and subsistence for all admitted applicants. Attendees will be expected to cover their own travel and transportation costs.

For more information, see the full announcement here.

Written by Sam White

June 19, 2015 at 5:52 pm

A Conversation with Miranda Massie of the Climate Museum

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MassieAn interview originally posted at 

Climate change might be the most important issue the world faces today. Readers of this site will know it has a rich history. It helped trigger the evolution of sentience in primates, created conditions that encouraged agriculture, and influenced the rise and fall of civilizations from Bronze Age Greece to the Ottoman Empire. Its present, as we have recently been reminded, affects us all. In just the last week, dozens have died in Texan floods, hundreds in an Indian heat wave, and thousands in a Syrian war provoked, in part, by drought. The future looks even more alarming. The IPCC and WMO have both warned that the world, and our place in it, may be almost unrecognizable in a century. So why is there no climate change museum? Read more

Written by Dagomar

June 1, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Posted in In the News

Upcoming Past Global Changes (PAGES) Meetings and Panels

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<Upcoming PAGES climate-related meetings and panels.  For more, see the latest newsletter, or visit the PAGES website>

► Upcoming deadlines to attend PAGES-endorsed meetings

Antarctica2k 2015 meeting
3-4 September 2015, Venice, Italy
Registration deadline: 31 May 2015

1st Ocean2k workshop
6-8 October 2015, Barcelona, Spain
To register submit a proposal contact organizers. Proposals can still be submitted during the review period.

Aus2k: Australasian paleoclimate of the last 2k: Intercomparison of climate field reconstruction methodologies, modeling, & data synthesis approaches
27-29 October 2015, Auckland, New Zealand
Submit an abstract by 15 August 2015

►  Our Common Future under Climate Change

This international scientific conference in Paris from 7-10 July will be the largest forum for the scientific community to come together ahead of the COP21, with many of the GEC community in attendance.

Register by 8 June 2015:

Written by Sam White

May 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Message about upcoming climate history meetings at the ICHG and ESEH

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At the upcoming International Conference of Historical Geographers in London this July, the organizers have set aside space for a meeting on climate history and historical climatology.  We’d like to use this as an opportunity to plan out future events and projects for the field.  Our impressions from talking with many of you are that we don’t necessarily need our own climate history conference or journal, but we could use more opportunities to meet and share our work in the field.  In particular, we’re considering starting a listserv and possibly a newsletter for climate history, and would like to hear your ideas about the best way to do that.  We’d also like to take this opportunity to coordinate climate history panel proposals for future international conferences, as we did for the ICHG, in order to bring together a critical mass of scholars in the field.  Finally, we could set up the Climate History Network as a non-profit in the US or UK so that we could open a bank account for small transactions, such as food and coffee at meetings, or even a small annual climate history article or book prize.  In the meantime, we would be grateful to hear your ideas and suggestions.  The meeting is scheduled for 13:15 on Tuesday, July 7.  Participants can pick up their lunches, provided by the conference, and bring them to the room.

In addition to the meeting at the ICHG, we’d like to propose a more informal discussion of plans for climate history and historical climatology at the upcoming European Society for Environmental History in Versailles.  Dagomar and Sam will be presenting on a panel about Canadian climate history in the late morning session of July 1.  If anyone would like to join us for lunch afterwards, please let us know, and we’ll try to find a suitable place to meet.  More details to follow.

We look forward to seeing you again soon, in Paris or in London.

Best wishes,

Sam White

Dagomar Degroot

Georgina Endfield

Written by Sam White

May 26, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Workshop Report: Climate and Society in Byzantine and Ottoman Anatolia, 300-1900CE

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Landscape around Konya (Sille) in a summer of droughtWorkshop Report: Climate and Society in Byzantine and Ottoman Anatolia, 300-1900CE

Towards understanding the impact of climate on complex societies of the pre-industrial era, 1-3 May 2015

Building on the 2013 meeting Climate in Byzantine Anatolia, Prof. John Haldon of Princeton University convened a group of some two dozen researchers in history, archaeology, environmental modeling, and climate science for a second three-day workshop. The meeting emphasized the sharing of information and perspectives from diverse fields in order to produce more effective multi-disciplinary research. In particular, participants tried to work out how climatology and environmental sciences could best present their findings to make them useful for historians and archaeologists, and vice versa. While focused on climate in Anatolia, the workshop also brought in perspectives from recent archaeological work on climate and land use early imperial China (Arlene Rosen) and an ongoing project examining precipitation changes, vegetation history, and the rise of the Mongol Empire (Nicola Di Cosmo, Hanqin Tian, Shufen Pan). Additional presentations examined the relationship among climate and livestock diseases in medieval Europe (Tim Newfield) and the history of earthquakes in the Byzantine Empire (Lee Mordechai).

Presenters examined climate and human history in Anatolia from a range of perspectives. In the first session, Deniz Bozkurt explained regional climate processes and large-scale forcing drawing on instrumental weather data and climate models; and Sam White discussed the findings of his previous book, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge, 2011), as well as more recent studies in Ottoman climate history and what implications they might have for the study of climate in the Byzantine Empire.

Several presentations drew on recent and ongoing studies of Anatolian lake sediments. Samantha Allcock examined the long-term vegetation and climate history around Nar Lake, concluding that climate could have been one of several drivers of regional land use and population change particularly during the 7th-8th centuries AD. Neil Roberts demonstrated evidence from oxygen isotope ratios in annually varved lake sediments for major droughts during the last several centuries in Anatolia, including the late 16th-century drought described in Climate of Rebellion. Warren Eastwood and Çetin Şenkul presented ongoing research comparing Ottoman cadastral surveys to cereal pollen counts in annually varved lake sediments, providing a way to test the reliability of those records and to fill in gaps in written evidence of land use. Sena Akçer-Ön discussed two studies analyzing the isotopic record and geomorphology of Küçükçekmece Lagoon in Istanbul and Lake Bafa in southwestern Turkey. One presetation, by Sturt Manning, discussed tree-ring studies in different regions of Anatolia, emphasizing the value of dendro data for precise high-resolution climate reconstructions.

Another group of presenters discussed recent and ongoing archaeological work that could shed light on land use and climate change impacts in Late Antique and Byzantine Anatolia.   These included findings from an archaeological investigation of Pontus during the 1st-8th centuries AD (Owen Doonan), the excavation of mid-late Byzantine Çadır Höyük (Marica Cassis), and a recent dissertation on the architecture of Late Antique and Byzantine urban water supplies systems (Jordan Pickett). Tying together many of the themes of the workshop, Adam Izdebski, Elena Xoplaki, and Dominik Fleitmann presented on their recent work leading an multidisciplinary team of historians and climate scientists to reconstruct and model climatic changes and impacts in Anatolia during the Medieval Climate Anomaly. To close the meeting, Prof. Izdebski discussed the lessons learned from this project in forging successful interdisciplinary research collaborations and publications.

Written by Sam White

May 21, 2015 at 12:59 pm


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