Climate History Network

A network of interdisciplinary scholars studying past climate change

Study Reconstructs African Climate History

Africa SpaceEarth’s climate has never been stable. Owing to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, it is warming now. However, other influences have caused it to fluctuate in the past, and to gain insight into the future of our climate it is critical that we understand its history. Efforts to reconstruct that past have had a western bias, owing in part to the substantial documentary legacy of European societies and their colonial descendants. Moreover, the modern interdisciplinary pursuit of historical climatology first emerged in Europe, and efforts to understand the European climate have received impressive government funding.

In recent years scholars across the globe have begun to address that imbalance. As the consequences of global warming grow increasingly obvious, international programs like the Past Global Changes (PAGES)project have gathered interdisciplinary researchers into teams dedicated to particular regions, epochs or methodologies, in the quest for a comprehensive picture of past climatic variability. A new article in the journal The Holocene presents the results of one PAGES initiative, which exhumed sources from the full breadth of Africa to incorporate the continent within the global climatic record. Read more


About D Degroot

I am an assistant professor of environmental history at Georgetown University. My research explores flexibility and resilience in the face of climate change across the early modern world. I am the co-administrator of the Climate History Network, and the administrator of For more about my work, visit

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2013 by in In the News, Publications.
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