Collapse of classic Maya civilization related to modest reduction in precipitation

Medina-Elizalde, M. and Rohling, E.J. (2012) Collapse of classic Maya civilization related to modest reduction in precipitation. Science, 335, (6071), 956-959. (doi:10.1126/science.1216629).


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The disintegration of the Classic Maya civilization in the Yucatán Peninsula and Central America was a complex process that occurred over an approximately 200-year interval and involved a catastrophic depopulation of the region. Although it is well established that the civilization collapse coincided with widespread episodes of drought, their nature and severity remain enigmatic. We present a quantitative analysis that offers a coherent interpretation of four of the most detailed paleoclimate records of the event. We conclude that the droughts occurring during the disintegration of the Maya civilization represented up to a 40% reduction in annual precipitation, probably due to a reduction in summer season tropical storm frequency and intensity.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1126/science.1216629
ISSNs: 0036-8075 (print)
1095-9203 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions : Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences > Ocean and Earth Science > Palaeoceanography & Palaeoclimate
ePrint ID: 336791
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
24 February 2012Published
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2012 09:31
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:25
Using inter-glacials to assess future sea-level scenarios (iGlass)
Funded by: NERC (NE/I009906/1)
Led by: Eelco Johan Rohling
1 July 2011 to 31 December 2015

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