Archaeology can help us prepare for climates ahead – not just look back

phys.org | 10/12/2018 | Staff
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Watching the weather for today and tomorrow is relatively easy with apps and news programs – but knowing what the climate was like in the past is a little more difficult.

Archaeological evidence can show us how humans coped with long-gone seasonal and environmental changes. For me, it's fascinating because it reveals what life was like back then. But it's useful beyond that too. This body of data helps us understand and build resilience to climate change in the modern world.

Archaeological - Data - Standard - Climate - Variability

Archaeological data is now of a standard where it can map past climate variability, offer context for human-induced climate change, and even improve future climate predictions.

As Earth takes its annual trip around the Sun, temperature, daylight hours and water availability vary through the seasons. These dictate natural cycles of animal breeding and migration, and plant fruiting and flowering. Such cycles control the availability of food, shelter, and raw material resources.

People - Cities - Seasons - Autumn - Hue

People living in cities might notice the changing seasons: autumn leaves turn a golden hue, and in summer fresh berries fill the supermarket shelves.

However, modern technology and global trade networks lessen the impact of the seasons on our daily lives. We can buy strawberries at any time of year (if we pay a premium). We can escape summer heatwaves by turning on air conditioners.

Parts - Australia - Changes - Plants - Animals

In most parts of Australia, our lives no longer depend on tracking the changes in plants and animals throughout the year. But in the past, if you weren't in tune with seasonal patterns, you wouldn't survive.

In my work I study how past people interacted with seasonal changes, using evidence from archaeological sites around the world.

Past - Patterns - Change - Cooler - Winters

Past and present seasonal patterns have changed due to climate change, causing cooler winters, warmer summers, or altered rainfall. Different seasons may occur earlier or later, last longer or be more extreme.

These changes have flow-on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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