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The Archaeology of Climate Change


Broadcast Date: Tuesday 15 May 12:15-12:30 2007
Summary: Climate change is nothing new say researchers. We've adapted to it before and we will adapt to it again!

Press Release

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North Sea

Climate change and global warming – its all happened before, according to archaeologists at the UK’s University of Birmingham in the West Midlands.
Researchers from the University’s Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity have been studying the effects of climate change in our past with a view to finding out what it can teach us about changes in our climate today.  

Ten thousand years ago the effects of global warming created the English Channel, as polar ice melted, flooding the lowland area that originally linked England to the rest of Europe. For the people who inhabited the region at the time it was a disaster of cataclysmic proportions – but the wider community found ways to deal with it and the researchers feel that this is one of their key findings.

The simple fact is that climate change is not a new phenomenon and has occurred intermittently throughout the history of our planet - and it will continue to affect the earth in an irregular pattern, sometimes warming up and at other times bringing colder, wetter spells. The reality is that human populations have always found ways to adapt to these changes.

The archaeologists use advanced computing technology at the University’s HP Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (HP VISTA), which is revolutionising how archaeology views the past, from geophysics to the creation of virtual worlds, allowing the researchers to better model past landscapes and more fully understand the full impact of climate change.

On Bodmin Moor, a bleak, windswept wilderness in the South West of England, the researchers have been examining the remains of a Bronze Age settlement. Around 800 BC climatic change resulted in colder, wetter weather. In some marginal territories, such as Dartmoor, settlements were abandoned but research on the adjacent Bodmin Moor shows a more adaptive response to climate change, as the community sought different ways of farming and seasonal occupation of the landscape.

The archaeology tells the simple facts; the evidence suggests we’ve been here before and adapted and survived. Will we adapt again to meet the latest challenges of climate change?

News feature includes:-
Interviews with:-
Dr Henry Chapman, Institute of Archaeology & Antiquity, University of Birmingham
Dr Ben Gearey, Research Fellow in Environmental Archaeology, University of Birmingham
Simon Fitch, Snr. Research Associate, Landscape Archaeology, University of Birmingham
GVs Archaeological field work on Bodmin Moor, South West England
GVs HP Vista Centre at the University of Birmingham
Various animations and computer reconstructions of early landscapes

Loose News Edit; approx. duration 4 mins + B-Roll

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Page contact: Kelly Newton Last revised: Tue 15 May 2007
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