George Hambrecht (University of Maryland)

‘Distributed Long-term Observation Networks of the Past’: the utility of mobilizing the past to address contemporary climate change. Behaviour, Baselines and Genetics.

How can data from the past be used to help understand and adapt to our rapidly changing climate? This paper offers a non-exhaustive overview of work done in the North Atlantic that views archaeological data as distributed observation networks of the past (DONOP). Paralleling the observation networks that have revealed the extent of change in the present by uncovering the climate patterns of the past, DONOP focuses on the dynamics between human and natural systems in the past.

This talk will address three types of data produced by these networks that are relevant to our current climate crisis. These are: behavioral data, focusing on the dynamics between past populations and their environment; baseline data, deeper temporal baselines of important natural resources; non-human genetic data, that can be used to understand past resource demographics as well as supply lost-genetic variation that might be useful for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. A new project, the Central North Atlantic Marine Historical Ecology Project, will be discussed in more detail as an example of the above ideas. While the answer to the question asked above is by no means clear, this talk will offer both a larger conceptual answer as well as more specific data focused answers as well.