Friday, August 30, 2013

Hot: More climate and biodiversity in history

At the end of Videos for my environmental science class from Discovery News, I wrote "I'll have an entry on climate change after I return home."  I didn't say how long after I came home, did I?  Actually, I did, as I concluded Hot: Storms usher in heat wave for month's end with "I'll have more climate news tomorrow."  Well, it's still "tomorrow" from Chicago west to the Aleutians, so here goes.

Tonight I'm following up on the topics I covered in Hot: Biodiversity and climate from historical documents by examining climate change in human history, beginning with an article about one of the same episodes of climate change covered in the earlier entry.  Melissa Pandika of the Los Angeles Times has the story in Climate change may have caused demise of Late Bronze Age civilizations.
Archaeologists have debated for decades over what caused the once-flourishing civilizations along the eastern Mediterranean coast to collapse about 1300 BC. Many scholars have cited warfare, political unrest and natural disaster as factors. But a new study supports the theory that climate change was largely responsible.

Analyzing ancient pollen grains from Cyprus, researchers concluded that a massive drought hit the region about 3,200 years ago. Ancient writings have described crop failures, famines and invasions about the same time, suggesting that the drying trend triggered a chain of events that led to widespread societal collapse of these Late Bronze Age civilizations.
Next, Joseph Castro of LiveScience describes a more recent interaction between climate and biodiversity in Penguins Thrived in Antarctica During Little Ice Age.
Penguin populations in the Ross Sea of Antarctica spiked during the short cold period called the Little Ice Age, which occurred between A.D.1500 and 1800, new research shows.

The results run contrary to previous studies that found increases in Antarctic penguin populations during warmer climates and decreases during colder climates, suggesting penguin populations living at different latitudes in the Antarctic may respond to climate change differently, scientists said.

"How ecological systems adapt to climate change is a very important and hot topic," said study researchers Liguang Sun and Zhouqing Xie, who are both environmental scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China. "Our study suggests that it is not simple to answer this question," they told LiveScience in an email.
Stay tuned for more climate stories and keep cool in the heat wave at month's end.

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