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CRIAS 2nd workshop: Integrating documentary evidence into climate reconstruction and impact studies

Leipzig, Germany
Workshop report
Contact person
Martin Bauch
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

PAGES' Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies (CRIAS) working group will hold its second workshop, titled "Integrating documentary evidence into climate reconstruction and impact studies" from 7-8 October 2019 in Leipzig, Germany.


Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO)
Reichsstraße 4-6
D-04109 Leipzig


This open workshop, for approximately 20-30 participants is supported by PAGES, Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe, Palaeo-Science and History Group (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History) and Heidelberg Center for the Environment.


The second workshop continues what was initiated during the kick-off workshop in 2018. The group focusing on an overview and best practices for generating climate indices from documentary evidence will meet to discuss intermediate results; the same applies for the group preparing a special issue on comparing methods in historical climatology in Europe and China.

To enhance participation in these groups, we will specifically address specialists outside Europe to participate and present their fields of expertise. (We are planning a third workshop in 2020 in Hong Kong to focus more closely on this topic.)


The main focus of the meeting is to make advances on the topic of integrating evidence from the archives of societies into climate field reconstructions. Current examples only incorporate indexed temperature values and assume a linear relationship between the index values and the value of the underlying climate parameter. We are currently exploring possibilities for developing Bayesian methods that could draw on the wealth of more uncertain historical evidence which has necessarily been left out in current reconstructions of this type. Chantal Camenisch and Qing Pei will discuss to what extent this approach seems feasible for their respective datasets.

A second focus of the meeting is on new approaches to societal impact of past climate change. The Dantean Anomaly group (Martin Bauch and colleagues) will present a first idea how to apply methods of digital humanities on large corpora of documentary data to identify semantic shifts in written records over decades and centuries. Dagmar Schäfer will present the application of digital tools in the evaluation of local gazetteers from China between 900 and 1900 CE.

The final aspect of the workshop will be to create first contacts for one long-term goal of CRIAS - organizing an exhibition on climate history with a major museum. Although this is planned for a potential second phase of the working group only, it would be necessary to start in contacting potentially interested stakeholders now. It would be necessary to involve researchers from beyond Europe as such an exhibition should be transcultural and provide a global perspective.

Financial support

PAGES has provided some financial support to fund the attendance of several early-career researchers and researchers from less-favored countries. Details on how to apply for this support will be made available as soon as possible.

Call for papers

To apply, please submit an abstract (300 words) by 15 June to Heli Huhtamaa:

Indicate whether you would prefer to present a poster or a 15-minute oral presentation.

Group leaders welcome papers that advance the methods or expand the geographical and chronological scope of historical climatology.

Topics of interest include:

- combining information from both natural archives and documentary records in climate reconstructions;
- expanding the use of documentary evidence in climate reconstruction to regions and periods beyond those covered by current temperature and precipitation indices;
- identifying early instrumental records and other means to calibrate historical series of narrative and phenological observations for use in historical weather and climate reconstructions;
- statistical methods to assess the reliability and usefulness of historical series of narrative and phenological observations for use in historical weather and climate reconstruction;
- interregional comparisons of methods in historical climatology, particularly for regions outside Europe and the Americas;
- qualitative and quantitative methods for attributing historical societal impacts to past climatic variability or change.

Group leaders strongly encourage papers that present ongoing research advancing toward publication, including potential contributions for a planned journal special issue on interregional comparisons in historical climatology methods. They particularly welcome participants from outside Europe, and PAGES may support travel for early career researchers and researchers from under-represented countries. The second workshop builds on the first CRIAS meeting in 2018, which focused on climate indices and on comparing historical climatology methods in Europe and China. In this meeting, participants will discuss intermediate results from those and other initiatives as well as plans for future meetings and products.


Access the preliminary program here:

Further information

Contact organizer Martin Bauch:

Go to the official workshop website: