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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Mike Church

Dugmore, A J, Borthwick, D M, Church, M J, Dawson, A, Edwards, K J, Keller, C, Mayewski, P, McGovern, T H, Mairs, K-A & Sveinbjarnardóttir, G (2007). The role of climate in settlement and landscape change in the North Atlantic islands: an assessment of cumulative deviations in high-resolution proxy climate records. Human Ecology 35(2): 169-178.

Author(s) from Durham


In order to assess possible contributions of climate change to the human ecology of the Faroe Islands, proxy climate data from the Greenland Icesheet Project 2 (GISP2) are evaluated in relation to settlement and landscape
changes in the Faroes and other North Atlantic islands. Our aim is to identify
times of unpredictable change in the context of cultural and environmental
'memories'. A pan-Atlantic perspective is used to assess the utility of
cumulative deviations from the mean, calculated for the Greenland
palaeotemperature proxy record (GISP2 δ180), the storm frequency proxy
(GISP2 Na+) and the extent of sea ice proxy (GISP2 Chloride excess). Key
changes are identified in the proxy climate records around 975/980 AD,
1025/1040 AD, 1180 AD, 1425/1450 AD, 1520/1525 AD. These changes are
consistent with those inferred from new studies of the palaeoecological record
of the Faroes. This indicates that the cumulative deviation measure could give
greatest prominence to the most important climate changes affecting
landscapes and settlement (such as the 'turnover' period of the 15th century
and its immediate aftermath), rather than the period of the greatest cold (the 18th century).