Forum explores human security and climate change

January 21, 2010

Why did Viking settlements that seemed well suited to harsh northern environments survive centuries of climate change in some places but fail in others? A physical geographer who studies the ties between environmental change and human cultures will unravel the mystery and ponder its implications for current societies at a Forum on Climate Change, History, and Society on Friday, February 12, at UW-Madison. Andrew Dugmore, a professor of geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, will speak at 4 p.m. in room AB20 Weeks Hall, 1215 W. Dayton St. His topic: "Well Adapted But Still Extinct: Lessons in Human Ecodynamics from the Viking Settlement of the North Atlantic." A moderated discussion led by UW-Madison researchers will follow. The public is invited and admission is free. Dugmore uses tephrochronology, a geological dating technique based on identifying and correlating volcanic ash layers in the ground, to help reconstruct the time sequences of, and relationships between, natural and cultural changes in the Earth's past. The technique has wide-ranging applications, from dating archaeological deposits to understanding the patterns and processes of soil erosion, slope movements, and glacial activities. The climate change forum is sponsored by the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research with support from the University Lectures Committee at UW-Madison. Co-sponsors include the Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History, and Environment and Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment and the Departments of Anthropology, Geography, Geoscience, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. For more information, contact Steve Vavrus, (608) 265-5279.