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2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility

Fig. 1. Tree Ring Sites and Forest Cover
Fig. 1. Tree Ring Sites and Forest Cover ~250 C.E.
2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility

Vol. 331, pp. 578-583, 4 February 2011
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197175

Ulf Büntgen,1,2 Willy Tegel,3 Kurt Nicolussi,4 Michael McCormick,5 David Frank,1,2 Valerie Trouet,1,6 Jed O. Kaplan,7 Franz Herzig,8 Karl-Uwe Heussner,9 Heinz Wanner,2 Jürg Luterbacher,10 Jan Esper11
Climate variations influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution paleoclimatic evidence. We present tree ring-based reconstructions of central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~250 to 600 C.E. coincided with the demise of the western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Such historical data may provide a basis for counteracting the recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.
Download data from the WDC Paleo archive:
Central Europe 2500 Year Tree Ring Summer Climate Reconstructions and tree ring indices, Text or Excel

To read or view the full study, please visit the Science website.
It was published in Science, Vol. 331, pp. 578-583, 4 February 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1197175
1 Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
2 Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
3 Institute for Forest Growth,University of Freiburg, 79085 Freiburg, Germany
4 Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.
5 Department of History, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
6 Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
7 Environmental Engineering Institute, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
8 Bavarian State Department for Cultural Heritage, 86672 Thierhaupten, Germany.
9 German Archaeological Institute, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
10 Department of Geography, Justus Liebig University, 35390 Giessen, Germany.
11 Department of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University, 55128 Mainz, Germany
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