Modelling climate impacts on human societies and marine fisheries in central Polynesia

Author(s): Melinda Allen; Alex Morrison; Andrew McAlister

Year: 2016


The effects of past climate change on Polynesian societies are poorly understood, in part because detailed palaeoclimate records have been lacking. Drawing on recently assembled palaeoclimate observations from across central Polynesia, along with those from realistically forced climate simulations, we assess how climate variability affected marine fisheries and long-term trends in harvesting practices. Little Ice Age (ca. 1400-1800 AD) conditions are modelled for central Polynesia focusing on those likely to affect nearshore fisheries, such as variability in sea surface temperatures, cyclonic activity, and the tempo of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity. The hypothesis that Little Ice Age conditions adversely affected marine fisheries in this region is evaluated, comparing model expectations with archaeological observations. To this end we use the almost-atoll of Aitutaki in the southern Cook Islands as a model ecosystem, exploiting both its central location with respect to (ENSO) processes and its robust archaeofaunal archives.

Cite this Record

Modelling climate impacts on human societies and marine fisheries in central Polynesia. Melinda Allen, Alex Morrison, Andrew McAlister. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403141)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;