3.1 Some Perspectives on Historical Climatology, Extreme Events, and Society

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 231/232 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Cary J. Mock, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Historical climatology has involved the study of high resolution climate reconstruction, assessing past climate impacts and extremes, and the changing philosophical thinking of climatology as a discipline. The field provides a longer temporal perspective of weather and climate that extends at least a few centuries prior to the era of modern climatology for many parts of the world. Successful historical climatology as a research discipline faces big challenges that involve three common themes: 1) fully understanding and interpreting the nature of original historical climate and weather observations from archival records; 2) successfully bridging broad interdisciplinary linkages spanning from the traditional scientific meteorologist and climate scientist, to humanities perspectives from historians, as well as involving other various related components from the natural, physical, and social sciences; and 3) strongly linking historical climate results to direct climate applications and relevance for society. This presentation describes the challenges and examples for successfully fulfilling all three of these themes, using examples described by some of the author's various works on the historical climatology with an emphasis on analyzing past historical extremes that may be “unprecedented.” Examples include the reconstruction/reanalysis, historical memory, and impacts from Atlantic and Gulf Coast, and East Asia tropical cyclone histories that include individual case studies of major hurricanes and typhoons; extreme flooding and cold air outbreaks in the U.S. Pacific Coast states and the American South; and mid-nineteenth century climate images of the American West and Great Plains during the Great American Desert Myth era and California Gold Rush. The presentation includes how historical climatology should be seriously integrated and significant with the societal and applied components. It includes information as related to community participation, involvement in secondary and higher education, web-based volunteer efforts to digitize and archive historical weather and climate information, and linkages with governmental and other operational agencies and the insurance industry.
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