Since 2004, University at Buffalo anthropologist Ezra Zubrow has worked intensively with teams of scientists in the Arctic regions of St. James Bay, Quebec, northern Finland and Kamchatka to understand how humans living 4,000 to 6,000 years ago reacted to climate changes.
"The circumpolar north is widely seen as an observatory for changing relations between human societies and their environment," Zubrow explains, "and analysis of data gathered from all phases of the study eventually will enable more effective collaboration between today's social, natural and medical sciences as they begin to devise adequate responses to the global warming the world faces today."
A slide show describing the work of Zubrow and colleagues can be viewed at http://bit.ly/d1dqVD.
This study, which will collect a vast array of archaeological and paleoenvironmental data, began with the Social Change and the Environment in Nordic Prehistory Project (SCENOP), a major international research study by scientists from the U.S., Canada and Europe of prehistoric sites in Northern Quebec and Finland.
Phases I and II of the study were headed by André Costopoulos and Gail Chmura of McGill University (Montreal), Jari Okkonen of Finland's Oulu University, and Zubrow, who directs UB's Social Systems Geographic Information Systems Lab.
Phase III, underway now, is the International Circumpolar Archaeological Project (ICAP) funded by $845,796 from the National Science Foundation's Arctic Social Sciences Program of the Office of Polar Programs, which is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Headed by Zubrow, it focuses on a third sub-arctic region: Siberia's remote Kamchatka peninsula, a rough and extremely volcanic wilderness region the size of California.
"With forecasts of sea-level rises and changing weather patterns, people today have been forewarned about some likely ramifications of climate change," Zubrow says, "but those living thousands of years ago, during the Holocene climatic optimum, could not have known what lay ahead of them and how their land -- and lives -- would be changing.
"This was a slower change," he says, "about one-third the rate we face today. In the Holocene period, it took a thousand years for the earth to warm as much as it has over the past 300 years -- roughly the time spanned since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
"As in other phases of the study," Zubrow says, "our goal in Kamchatka is to clarify ancient regional chronologies and understand the ways prehistoric humans adapted to significant environmental changes, including warming, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and the seismic uplift of marine terraces that impacted the environment during the period in question."
He points out that, despite our more sophisticated prediction technology, and technologies overall, many of the world's people have residences and lifestyles that are just as vulnerable to climatic shift as those of our prehistoric ancestors. They, too, live along estuaries and coastlines subject to marked alteration as oceans rise.
Most of the ARRA stimulus money used in the project is spent in the United States on salaries and research at various universities. Zubrow reiterates a point he often makes with his students: "This research funding is good for science, good for the economy, good for the government and good for the international reputation of the United States."
Ultimately, information gathered over the next year by the geologists, archaeologists, geochemists, volcanologists and paleoecologists on Zubrow's team will be compared with data from the two other ICAP sites.
During an additional study phase funded by a $300,000 grant from NSF, through the ARRA, Zubrow will conduct archaeological research in Mexico to ascertain how arctic climatic changes during the mid- and post-Holocene era affected human populations in a changing temperate climate.
In addition to his position at UB, Zubrow holds academic positions at the University of Toronto and Cambridge University (UK). He is also senior research scientist at the National Center for Geographic Information Analysis Laboratory, which he helped found. His work reflects a diverse set of academic interests -- arctic archaeology and anthropology, climate change, human ecology and demography -- and a deep interest in such social issues as heritage, disability and literacy.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.
Patricia Donovan | EurekAlert!
Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute
Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine