A Satellite-Based Perspective on Ancient Climate in Tropical and Desert Regions

Author(s): Thomas Sever; Robert Griffin; Thomas L. Sever

Year: 2015


This research documents the effects of human activity upon tropical forests and desert landscapes. The investigation uses both satellite and airborne imagery to understand the dynamics of human adaptation and interaction upon these landscapes, and the role of natural and human-induced past and present changes to climate variability. These two subjects are highly interrelated since human-induced landscape changes can have strong impacts on climate, while natural climate variability can in turn exert strong pressures on the landscape, potentially exacerbating human-induced effects. Special emphasis will be placed upon the Maya lowlands of northern Guatemala and Belize, areas that are threatened by current deforestation and land use changes. It was in this region that the ancient Maya civilization began, flourished, and abruptly disappeared beginning around AD 800. Preliminary research suggests that the destruction of the landscape by human activity contributed to this collapse. These satellite-based techniques are also being applied to the northern desert of Peru.

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Cite this Record

A Satellite-Based Perspective on Ancient Climate in Tropical and Desert Regions. Thomas Sever, Thomas L. Sever, Robert Griffin. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397004)


Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;