Linking Multi-Decadal Climate Trends, Natural Disasters, and Human Resilience in the North Atlantic during the Little Ice Age.

Authors: Matthew Bampton*, University of Southern Maine, Dianna Farrell, University of Southern Maine
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Climatology and Meteorology, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Little Ice Age,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate histories are modeled on ocean basin and continental scales of space, and on multi-decadal scale of time; humans first experience the impacts of climate change locally. Contemporary impact attribution research seeks to link individual storms and their local human consequences to broader trends of current climate change. Here we identify a “fingerprint” of Little Ice Age climate change on past catastrophic storm damage in North Atlantic coastal and island communities. Cross-scale analysis of archaeological, archival, cartographic, and sedimentological evidence, correlated with regional climate trends, and storm simulations links broad scale changes with documented human impacts. Although our data currently lack the granularity to specify individual storms as the triggers of particular natural disasters, we can demonstrate a causal hierarchy from multi-decadal climate trends through annual weather patterns to local human impacts. Further, there is a strong correlation between these climate trends and larger regional cycles such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Such detailed histories of long-term social and environmental interactions can illuminate trajectories of human resilience to climate change, and serve as “completed experiments” illustrating successful and unsuccessful strategies for survival.

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