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New perspectives on historical climatology

A new paper has been published by White S, Pei Q, Kleemann K, Dolák L, Huhtamaa H and Camenisch C in WIREs Climate Change.

The CRIAS (Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies) working group aims to improve methods of analysing sources and the data drawn from them, such as written records, early instrumental observations, and artefacts such as flood markers (the archives of societies) which play a vital role in high-resolution climate reconstruction. 

The interdisciplinary field of Historical climatology that the CRIAS working group operates in, has seen a lot of growth in recent years, which has brought with it many new insights, but challenges as well. 

In this paper, the authors provide a critical analysis of this recent growth in historical climatology, including the challenges and possibilities to overcome these. The authors argue "that this turn to self-reflection and criticism reflect challenges of holding the field together during its current growth and diversification, and the article reviews two principal issues: the integration and comparison of reconstructions from multiple, heterogeneous sources (Section 6) and clashing frameworks of historical knowledge and causation regarding climate in human history (Section 7). Finally, this article considers two recent directions in research that could help address these issues: the use of Bayesian methods (Section 8) and more careful analysis of historical knowledge and causation, including explicit contrast sets in causal claims (Section 9). We conclude with a list of four key recommendations for future projects in the field (Section 10)."

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"This review is a product of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies (CRIAS) working group. It is not associated with any conference. We thank the reviewers and editors for their valuable comments on the manuscript."