The Science of Climate Change

  • Ryan P. Harrod
  • Debra L. Martin
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Anthropology book series (BRIEFSANTHRO)


This chapter provides a review of some of the concepts behind the phrase “climate change.” Recognizing the limitations of the definition and estimation of climate, climate change is typically associated with the notion of global warming. This has become shorthand for the recent and future changes in the climate that are resulting in higher average temperatures worldwide. Examples are provided regarding the difficulty in measuring and identifying the effects of climate despite the scientific nature of the findings. Even when humans are taken out of the picture, it can be difficult to know exactly what happened in a particular environment and determine how these changes may have necessarily impacted the ecological context. Archaeological reconstructions can provide important information on the interactions between the natural and cultural environment in the past. This collaborative work has important implications for understanding the role of humans in climate change events. Because of the long periods of time that archaeologists work with, long chronological sequences of climate data can be used to reconstruct human activities before, during, and after the events, such as long droughts, volcanic eruptions, or periods of cold and dry weather. These all had an impact on human groups who experienced them. Reconstructing past climates to look at changes over long periods of time is challenging, but there are ways of using proxy data. While there are challenges with all current and past estimates of climate change, careful and critical analysis of the past climate change offers a better way of understanding its current trends.


Defining climate Measuring climate change Environment Geomorphology Landscape 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan P. Harrod
    • 1
  • Debra L. Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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