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Item #d95jun23

Two related items in Nature, 375(6530), June 1, 1995:

"Drought and Decline," J.A. Sabloff (Museum Archeol. & Anthropol., Univ. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA 19104), 357. The relatively sudden decline of Classic Maya civilization is seen at many sites. Hodell et al., in the next paper, supply fresh evidence regarding climate change in the region. The research raises a general question deserving of continued attention: how severe do internal stresses in a civilization have to become before relatively minor climate shifts can trigger widespread cultural collapse?

"Possible Role of Climate in the Collapse of Classic Maya Civilization," D.A. Hodell (Dept. Geol., Univ. Florida, Gainesville FL 32611), 391-394. Uses temporal variations in oxygen isotope and sediment composition in a core from Lake Chichancanab, Mexico, as a climate proxy, to reconstruct a continuous record of Holocene climate change for the central Yucatan peninsula. The interval between 1,300 and 1,100 yr bp was the driest of the middle-to-late Holocene epoch, and coincided with the collapse of Classic Maya civilization.

Item #d95jun24

"Severe Convective Weather in the Context of a Nighttime Global Warming," J. Dessens (Ctr. Recherches Atmos., 653 Campistrous, France), Geophys. Res. Lett., 22(10), 1241-1244, May 15, 1994.

The finding that most of the recently observed global warming is due to an increase of nighttime temperature may have important implications on occurrence of severe storms. This hypothesis was tested for France from 1946 to 1992. Two elements (annual mean minimum temperature and a hail severity index) correlated year-to-year, implying a 40% increase in hail damage for a 1° C increase in mean minimum temperature.

Item #d95jun25

"Climate Change and Human History. Some Indications from Europe, ad 400-1400," N. Brown (Environ. Change Unit, Univ. Oxford, 1a Mansfield Rd., Oxford OX1 3TB, UK), Environ. Pollut., 83, 37-43, 1994.

Examines the 1000 years after the collapse of Roman Europe, when civilization seemed to wane, then wax and wane again, in phase with deteriorations and improvements in climate. Shows the great vulnerability to climatic perturbation of societies that are marginally poised for other reasons, and concludes that the entire world society will be marginal in the 21st century.

Item #d95jun26

"Assessment of the Impact of Rising Carbon Dioxide and Other Potential Climate Changes on Vegetation," J.T. Baker (Agron. Dept., Univ. Florida, Gainsville FL 32611), L.H. Allen Jr., ibid., 223-235.

Discusses how changes in climatic parameters, singly or in combination, affect vegetation of varying species. However, there are few studies on the interactive effect of CO2 concentration and temperature on plants, and on the effects of UV-B radiation at elevated CO2 concentration. Since CO2, UV-B, and temperature may increase concurrently, more such research is needed to determine plant responses.

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