Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category
The Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) at Heidelberg University invites applications for a PhD position in Palaeoclimatology within the Junior Research Group (JRG) “Environment and Society.” The position will start on September 1st 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter, and is awarded for 3 years. Although Heidelberg University does not charge tuition, the position is remunerated according to the TVL 13 scale, and includes a fully equipped work space, access to travel funds, and laboratory facilities. The JRG investigates the co-development and entanglement of society and environment, with a focus on historical famines. It is interdisciplinary in scope and combines approaches of palaeoclimatology and geoarchaeology with environmental history.
The successful applicant is expected to complete a Ph.D. focussing on the reconstruction of historical climates based on multiproxy climate archives. Successful applicants should hold a Master’s degree in geography, geoarchaeology, earth sciences or environmental physics. They should have received training in climate modelling and/or palaeoclimate dynamics. Previous experience of interpreting and collecting multiproxy climate archives is desirable but not mandatory. Applications must include a cover letter, CV, academic transcripts, a short statement of research interests (in English or German), and one letter of recommendation (sent separately). Heidelberg University is an equal opportunity employer and wishes to promote equality at all levels.
Potential candidates can contact the group leader Dr. Dominik Collet (firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>) for more information. The deadline for applications is June 30th 2013, though applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please submit your application electronically as a single PDF to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
A workshop entitled “Race, alterity and affect: rethinking climate change-induced migration and displacement” will take place from 18 to 19 June at Durham University in England. From the H-Net Announcement: “the aim of this workshop is to bring debates about climate change and migration broadly defined into dialogue with contemporary critical race theory and postcolonial theory. Recent interventions have suggested that racialisation in the context of debates about climate change and migration unfolds through at least three interrelated tropes: naturalisation, the loss of political status, and ambiguity. This work also argues that given their historiographic emphasis, theories of the postcolonial on their own appear to be insufficient for properly theorising the alterity of the climate change migrant. This is because climate change and migration discourse is written in the future-conditional tense. In contrast, others have embraced theories of the postcolonial to interpret issues of climate change and mobility. Thus one of the aims of this workshop is to consider how critical race theory and theories of the postcolonial might be usefully reinterpreted to address the future-conditionality of climate change and migration discourse.”
To register, contact Ellie Whittles (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Organisers: Andrew Baldwin (Durham University) and Katherine E. Russo (Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale)
Partners: COST Action IS1101 Climate change and migration; Institute for Advanced Studies (Durham University); Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale
The journal Environment and History has recently published a special issue devoted to historic floods in medieval and early modern Europe. In an editorial introduction, historian James Galloway explains that studies examining environmental disasters have multiplied since the 1980s in the kind of history that seeks connections between the human and non-human worlds. Increasingly, natural disasters are not perceived as unavoidable transgressions on society – “acts of God” – but, instead, as a product of a particular society. Natural catastrophes are, in fact, “social phenomena” located at the intersection of a society’s unique pattern of vulnerability and resilience in its relationship with the nonhuman world. The papers in the latest issue of Environment and History reconstruct past natural disasters, consider the interactions between them and past societies, and measure the relevance of such research in an era particularly prone to environmental catastrophe. Read more
Average global temperatures fluctuate in response to many different influences, and while some of these “forcings” are now affected by humans, others are shaped entirely by natural causes. Articles on this website have considered whether sulfur released into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions stimulated the prolonged cooling of the so-called Little Ice Age in the centuries before 1850. Deposited in the stratosphere, volcanic sulfur dioxide interacts with other chemicals to form sulfuric acid and water, which in turn reflects solar radiation. Other articles on the site have introduced research revealing that the reflective properties of man made aerosol pollution in the twentieth century likely sheltered swaths of North America and, later, parts of China from the influence of global warming. Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a new study by lead author Ryan Neely explores how these very different influences have recently interacted with the most important forcing agent of our time: the rapid rise of atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activity. Read more.
By Liza Piper. Originally published by The Otter, blog of the Network in Canadian History and Environment.
The Early Canada Environmental Data project is launching a series of new tools and updated webpages to encourage and facilitate research into Canadian climate history.
1) Searchable Reference Database: This database includes references to source materials found in archives across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom that can be used for the reconstruction of past climates. In other words, most of the references you will find here are to materials that have regular observations of the weather and often to its broader environmental, social, and economic effects. Sometimes these are instrumental observations (e.g. -10° C, wind from the North), sometimes they are descriptive (cold, windy, squally). Most of the materials are in either English or French. Most of the materials are not available online but require that you visit an archive. The database also includes a separate tab to search our weather datasets. These datasets are from archival materials that have been digitised. We hope to add further datasets in future, so if you have data that you wish to contribute, please let us know.
A new study in this week’s Science (see also the news article here, and the lengthier analysis on HistoricalClimatology.com) uses U-Th dating on a stalagmite in Belize to offer the most convincing evidence yet that the conflict and settlement abandonment of the lowlands Maya Terminal Classic Period (~800-900AD) took place against a backdrop of severe recurring drought. While past studies of lake sediments pointed to a similar conclusion, this speleothem research offers the most local, precisely dated, and high-resolution information to date. As in similar studies in other parts of the world, the oxygen isotope data recovered won’t be a perfect representation of regional precipitation; but in this case the overlap of the finds with other proxies and, in the case of the 16th-century droughts, with historical records is highly suggestive. This story has also picked up some coverage in the media as another cautionary tale for contemporary climate change.
Another study, published in the latest issue of PNAS has found a modest but statistically significant correlation between climate and conflict in Africa since 1990. In particular, the authors find that especially high rainfall correlates with reduced conflict and especially high temperatures correlate with elevated conflict. The results fit with a growing list of studies fitting past climate anomalies with war and violence (even though most of these studies only consider linear correlations rather than thresholds, consider temperature and precipitation separately rather than as drought indices, and neglect the duration and seasonality of anomalies). This one has picked up a little coverage in the press, too.
For those looking for teaching resources on climate and conflict, Yale Environment 360 has produced a short free online video here.
A new book was published today that may interest historians of the twentieth-century climate. The publisher’s description: “on 19 January 1947 Ireland was invaded by a freakish anticyclonic weather phenomenon that lasted for two months. The arctic siege brought freezing temperatures of -14 Centigrade (7F), a piercing east wind reaching 60 70 m.p.h., five major blizzards, and snowdrifts of 12 to 20 feet some topping 50. Cars, buses, houses and entire villages were buried, roads were blocked, telephone and electricity lines felled and towns and farms isolated as food and fuel dwindled. Tragically this happened amidst the worst fuel crisis in Irelands history. People were forced to strip wood from their homes, and nearly half of all Dubliners were burning furniture to survive. By 19 February 1947 Dublins death rate had more than doubled as the poor and elderly succumbed to hunger, cold and illness. Kevin C. Kearns presents a graphic account of what was regarded as a near-biblical calamity of blizzards, freezing, hunger, floods and threatened famine. This is a vivid tale of suffering and courage, death and survival, of human resilience and real heroism, poignantly authenticated by the oral testimony of those who lived through the arctic siege.”
This week’s edition of Science reports on an ongoing NSF-funded interdisciplinary project to understand the origins of Genghis Khan’s empire, including the role of climate. Preliminary tree-ring work points to a cold dry period during the late 12th century–a time of Mongol infighting–then a period of abundant rainfall on the Mongolian steppes in 1211-30AD, during the peak of Mongol conquest. The investigators point to the critical role of good weather for grass growth to power Mongol herds and armies.
The New Scholars group of the Network in Canadian History and Environment would like to invite submissions for the 3rd annual Place and Placelessness Online Workshop, taking place October 18-19, 2012.
This online symposium is intended for graduate students and recently graduated scholars from all disciplines that seek to better understand the complex relationships between nature and culture, with particular attention paid to the theme of climate. The workshop attempts to replicate the collegiate atmosphere of a shared-space meeting by using a variety of internet tools, including WordPress, Skype, Google Maps, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter to share ideas and participate in engaged discussion. This model should appeal especially to those who are eager for academic gatherings without the cost or carbon footprint of in-person meetings. The workshop encourages participation from students across the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences in an attempt to facilitate trans-disciplinary and transnational dialogue for global issues such as anthropogenic climate change.
Although the expectation is that most submissions will come in the form of in-progress pieces of writing, the organizers welcome submissions of alternative multi-media projects that utilize online tools to stimulate arguments about our relationship with local, regional, and transnational environments. All interested presenters must submit a CV, as well as a 300 word abstract outlining their topic, what format their contribution will take, and how their paper or project aims to broaden, illustrate or complicate the notion of ‘climate’ by September 11th, 2012.
The theme of climate is loosely defined, and may include perspectives on:
- governance and policy history
- environmental history and industry/industrialization
- histories of activism or environmentalism
- global climates, international relations and geopolitics
- historical climatology
- histories of ecology, geology or geophysics
- primary source documents in climate history
- climate regions (such as arctic or tropical)
- new digital climates and virtual communities
The organizers would also like to invite others not submitting papers/projects to ‘attend’ the workshop as participants. This two-day event will take place entirely online, using Skype to communicate, and the website to provide access to the program, papers, presentations, blog posts, feedback, and links to relevant websites. All participants will receive a FREE Skype headset. The workshop has no registration fee, but only limited space, so sign up early.
If you would like to contribute a paper or project, or would like to simply participate in the discussions, please register by sending emails to workshop co-chair, Mike Commito (email@example.com). A full schedule will be announced September 15th, 2012.