Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Climate in Northern Europe Reconstructed for the Past 2,000 Years: Cooling Trend Calculated Precisely for the First Time


An international team that includes scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has published a reconstruction of the climate in northern Europe over the last 2,000 years based on the information provided by tree-rings. Professor Dr. Jan Esper's group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC. In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling.

"We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low," says Esper. "Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today's climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods." The new study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Was the climate during Roman and Medieval times warmer than today? And why are these earlier warm periods important when assessing the global climate changes we are experiencing today? The discipline of paleoclimatology attempts to answer such questions.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Moving 4,000 Tons Using Only the Strength of Humans and Animals: Historians Accompany the Castle Construction in Friesach


Entirely in keeping with medieval construction methods, a castle is being erected in the Austrian town of Friesach. The project, which is scheduled to last 30 years, is being accompanied by a number of historians. On July 5th, the corner stone for the visitors' centre will be laid.

Medieval castles are regarded as buildings of particular stability: Even after 1,000 years, many have successfully withstood the ravages of time. Making the most of a construction site, where a castle is being constructed using medieval methods, historians are critically examining the existing knowledge about tools and materials, in an effort to gain new insights. "For example, a female expert in the history of construction is currently conducting research in Friesach in order to discover the secret of the medieval mortar mixture," Johannes Grabmayer, project leader at the Department of History at the Alpen-Adria-Universit├Ąt explains. An understanding of this "perfect mortar" could also be of interest to today's manufacturers of construction equipment and materials.