2500 years of European climate variability and human susceptibility

Ulf Büntgen, Willy Tegel, Kurt Nicolussi, Michael McCormick, David Frank, Valerie Trouet, Jed O. Kaplan, Franz Herzig, Karl Uwe Heussner, Heinz Wanner, Jürg Luterbacher, Jan Esper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

714 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-582
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume331
Issue number6017
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 4 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Büntgen, U., Tegel, W., Nicolussi, K., McCormick, M., Frank, D., Trouet, V., Kaplan, J. O., Herzig, F., Heussner, K. U., Wanner, H., Luterbacher, J., & Esper, J. (2011). 2500 years of European climate variability and human susceptibility. Science, 331(6017), 578-582. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1197175