Monday, April 27, 2015

Climate change contributed towards the collapse of the Maya

Adam Steedman Thake in New Historican: Climate change is one of the major problems facing the world today. It is not simply a modern-day occurrence, however. Ancient populations also struggled to deal with changes in their environment.

New research has explored the devastating consequences of climate change on an ancient Maya civilisation.

Researchers have found that historic droughts in Central America matched the patterns of disruption to Maya society. Importantly, these findings provide clues regarding the longstanding questions about what role climate change had in the Maya collapse between 800 and 950 CE.

Paleoclimate records indicate a series of severe droughts occurred during this period of Maya decline. Evidence for drought, however, largely derives from the drier, less populated northern Maya Lowlands. As such, this does not explain the much more drastic societal disruption in the humid conditions of the southern Maya Lowlands.

“Our work demonstrates that the southern Maya lowlands experienced a more severe drought compared to the north,” said Mark Pagani, a Yale University professor of geology and geophysics and co-author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences....

Mayan compass, "Chimera of the Crystal Skull," shot by Rikfriday :, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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