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Deforestation changed the climate in Europe during the Bronze Age

Fruset vatten i ett skogsbryn en kall vinterdag.

The vegetation in Europe has not always looked like it does today. Just as the ice sheet retreated in northern Europe and the population increased, man began to affect the landscape to a greater extent by deforestation. At first on a small scale to facilitate hunting, for example, and then more systematically to make way for agriculture. A new study shows that one of the consequences was changes in the climate.

In order to see what effect the change in land surface had on the climate, the researchers (of which two are MERGE-researchers; Marie-Jose Gaillard from Linnaeus University and Johan Lindström from Lund University) led by Gustav Strandberg (SMHI) looked at reconstructions of the land surface derived from analysis of thousands of years-old pollen grains preserved in lake sediments. Using a vegetation model, they also simulated what the land surface would have looked like around 500 BC without human influence.  The researchers then used global and regional climate models developed at SMHI to simulate Europe's climate, both as it was, according to the pollen data, and as it would have been without human influence, in order to make comparisons.

Read the full article

Click to read the full news article on SMHI's website.

The study was published in the Copernicus journal Climate of the Past. 

Click to read the research article