Global climate models driven with reconstructions of solar variations, volcanic aerosols and land use change can simulate climate variations over past centuries, but only on spatial scales far coarser than the scales on which communities will have experienced climate change impacts. This project will use a high-resolution land surface model and meteorological downscaling to reconstruct impacts on human scales for selected regions in Iceland (Skaftártunga, Hörgárdalur, Mývatnsveit and Svalbard) during the late medieval period (13th-15th centuries CE). Climate reconstructions will be taken from the archive of global simulations in the Paleoclimate Model Intercomparison Project. Downscaling over landscapes will be achieved with RePLACE, a new model that is being built to implement the capabilities of the PLACE model in a flexible physically-based modelling environment for cold regions. This modelling work will be closely integrated with archaeologists who have worked on the sites in the areas to be studied. This will require the student to work with the archaeologists and read through archaeological reports from the various relevant sites. This will be crucial to understanding the invaluable environmental evidence provided by archaeological finds. Further details on environmental conditions throughout time will be provided by Sediment Accumulation Rate information found in soil profiles dated by volcanic ash layers (tephrochronology). Fieldtrips to Iceland are an integral part of this project and will provide important information about the landscape being modelled. In particular, it will be important to visits areas that have representative vegetation that is no longer present at the farms being investigated. Seasonal visits will help understand variations in snow cover and its interaction with vegetation types.
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