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Meetings - Workshops \ 13-16 September 2008


International meeting "Climate Extremes During Recent Millennia and their Impact on Mediterranean Societies"

The Mariolopoulos-Kanaginis Foundation for the Environmental Sciences co-organized with the Academy of Athens the International meeting "Climate Extremes During Recent Millennia and their Impact on Mediterranean Societies", on 13-16 September 2008, in the building "Costis Palamas" of the University of Athens on 13 -16 September 2008, in Athens.

From left to right the President of the Foundation Prof. C. Zerefos, the head of the Hellenic National Met service O. Galanopoulos, the Minister of Interior Prof. P. Paulopoulos, the Secretary of the Foundation Prof. C. Repapis, Dr. Juek Luterbacher, Dr. Elena Xoplaki and the Vice Rector of the University of Athens Prof. D. Assimakopoulos and member of the board of directors of the Foundation.

Concluding remarks can be found below:

Mediterranean climate change and impact on society

Symposium "Climate Extremes During Recent Millennia and their Impact on Mediterranean Societies", University of Athens, (Greece), 13-16 September 2008.

Climatic extremes in the past few thousand years have severely impacted societies throughout the Mediterranean and changed the outcome of historical events in some instances. Most natural disasters involve increased vulnerability to natural hazards as a consequence of human actions preceding such events. The impacts of climatic extremes-droughts, floods, prolonged cold and heat-affect society in a variety of forms-operating through famine, disease, and social upheaval.

These were the topics discussed at a recent interdisciplinary symposium in Greece that brought together paleoclimatologists, climatologists, anthropologists, geologists, archaeologists, and historians working in the Greater Mediterranean Region.

The complexity of the Mediterranean climate makes its reconstruction a highly challenging task. Spatial coverage is quite lopsided with very little information from Northern Africa and the Middle East. Several issues, relevant to improve the research on the impacts of past Mediterranean climate extremes were identified: the necessity of additional high quality and high resolution records, long instrumental data are required for the calibration of proxy data (initiative undertaken in the MEDARE project,

The need for a multi-proxy approach was reaffirmed given that every natural and documentary proxy data have limitations and uncertainties, and responses are often non-linear. Focusing on different time slices and/or scales, climate extremes and finally stronger integration will help to bridge the large communication gap between the scientists producing the paleo records, and those involved in the modeling/dynamical community.

The impact of volcanoes on climate and societies in the Mediterranean was addressed combining observations, documentary sources, works of art and mulit-proxy reconstructions. GCM experiments support the reconstructions and seem logically consistent with the circulation reaction to the global re-distribution of heat following tropical eruptions.

Impacts and adaptation practices from climate change events in the Mediterranean from the recent millennia until today were discussed. In particular the events of 8.2, 5.2 and 4.2 BP resulted in severe impacts on the Neolithic Mediterranean societies, including changes in mobility patterns or even a demographic drop due to reduced food supplies.

Adaptation practices used in the recent millennia include movements of population, abandonment of specific agricultural production and shift to pastoral nomadism. Such adaptation measures could have little or no applicability to the present day due to the technological infrastructure available.

Further information on the symposium can be found at

ELENA XOPLAKI Oeschger Centre/Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland, E-mail:, PHIL JONES, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, RICARDO GARCÍA HERRERA, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain, CHRISTOS ZEREFOS, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, National Observatory of Athens, Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece, MARK BESONEN, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, ALEXANDER GERSHUNOV, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, USA, CHRISTOS GIANNAKOPOULOS, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece, CAROL GRIGGS Cornell University, Ithaca, USA, CHRISTOPH RAIBLE Oeschger Centre/Institute of Physics, University of Bern, Switzerland, YVES M. TOURRE, MeteoFrance, Toulouse, France.


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