The Ancient Indus Civilization in India Adaptation to Climate Change

New research methods and technologies are able to shed light on climate patterns that took place thousands of years ago, giving us a new perspective on how cultures of the time coped with variable and changing environments.

A new article in the February issue of Current Anthropology explores the dynamics of adaptation and resilience in the face of a diverse and varied environmental context, using the case study of South Asia’s Indus Civilization (c.3000-1300 BC). Integrating research carried out as part of the Land, Water and Settlement project—part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Cambridge and Banaras Hindu University—that worked in northwest India between 2007 and 2014, the article looks at how Indus populations in north-west India interacted with their environment, and considers how that environment changed during periods of climate change.

Lead author, Dr. Cameron Petrie of the Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge notes that “for most ancient complex societies, water was a critical factor, and the availability of water and the way that it was managed and used provide critical insight into human adaptation and the resilience of subsistence practices”.

Most early complex societies developed in regions where the climatic parameters faced by ancient subsistence farmers were varied, but not especially diverse. The Indus Civilization developed in a specific environmental context, where the winter and summer rainfall systems overlapped. There is now evidence to show that this region was subject to climate change during the period when the Indus Civilization was at its height (c.2500-1900 BC). The Indus Civilization therefore provides a unique opportunity to understand how an ancient society coped with diverse and varied ecologies and change in the fundamental and underlying environmental parameters.

In the early Holocene, the Indus Civilization was situated in proximity to Kotla Dahar, a deep lake, implying regular and consistent rainfall input to offset evaporation, which given its location, would have been primarily monsoonal. The lake showed evidence for two dramatic decreases in monsoon rainfall and a progressive lowering of the lake level. The second of these shows Kotla Dahar becoming completely ephemeral ca. 2200-2000 BC as a result of an abrupt weakening of the monsoon, and the weakening of the monsoon is visible in speleothem records in Oman and northeast India. The proximity of the Kotla Dahar record to the area occupied by Indus populations shows that climate must be formally considered as a contributing parameter in the process of Indus deurbanization, at least in the context of the plains of northwest India.

It has long been hypothesized that there was variation in the subsistence practices used by Indus populations and this fits with the theme of coping with diverse environments. Petrie comments that “we argue that rather than being forced to intensify or diversify subsistence practices in response to climatic change, we have evidence for the use of millet, rice, and tropical pulses in the pre-urban and urban phases of the Indus Civilization. This evidence suggests that local Indus populations were already well adapted to living in varied and variable environmental conditions before the development of urban centers. It is also possible that these adaptations were beneficial when these populations were faced with changes to the local environment that were probably beyond the range of variation that they typically encountered”.

BREAKING NEWS: Earth Breaks Heat Record in 2016 and Why This Means Nothing

Last year, the Earth sweltered under the hottest temperatures in modern times for the third year in a row, US scientists said Wednesday, raising new concerns about the quickening pace of climate change.

Temperatures spiked to new national highs in parts of India, Kuwait and Iran, while sea ice melted faster than ever in the fragile Arctic, said the report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Taking a global average of the land and sea surface temperatures for the entire year, NOAA found the data for “2016 was the highest since record keeping began in 1880,” said the announcement.

And there’s your answer to why this means nothing. The recording of temperature variations is barely over a hundred years old. This is “nothing” as it related to geological shifts which can be measured in thousands of years, millions of years, and even billions of years.

It is all relative to “cycles”. Short-term cycles, long-term cycles, medium-term cycles, cycles within cycles. Climate cycles can be associated to solar cycles, which in themselves provide short, medium and long-term cycles. Climate variance can also be associated to solar system cycles which are driven by interplanetary cyclical disturbances which include shifting variances in our galaxy Milky Way.

To no surprise, it does not stop there; unfortunately, our newest astronomical instruments do. Now perhaps you can see why I have turned my attention to my latest body of research titled “Science Of Cycles”. The further and more advanced our astronomical instruments are developed, the more we learn of the intricate web of causal effects identifying a relationship from our most distant galaxies, to our small little house called Earth which is located in our tiny neighborhood called Solar System, which is part of our city named Milky Way.

Another factor has been the Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Nino, which experts say exacerbates the planet’s already rising warmth. And guess what is the cause of El Nino’s, La Nina’s, and of course La Cucaracha. The cause is shifting jet stream and ocean currents. And what is the cause of this shifting? It is charged particles coming from our Sun and our galaxy Milky Way. When they hit the Earth’s magnetic field, it morphs around Earth like a cocoon which as an effect on our upper atmosphere.

The fact is Earth has seen much hotter and cooler temperatures in her recent and distant past. To take a tiny snippet of 120 years is more than dishonest; it is reckless and appears to be used by special interest. Another fact…is  there really even one person on this Earth who is “pro” pollution? The greatest danger is for special interest to manipulate the populist in believing we can control cyclical heating and cooling trends. We cannot. There is only so much money in the world, and we should balance our efforts spending a significant portion on “preparation and preparedness”.

BREAKING NEWS: New Discovery of Ancient Tree Rings Indicate Stable Predictable Sunspot Cycle Over 300 Million Years Period

I know your first instinct is to say something like “duh”. I would certainly support you in this analysis. However, setting this obvious notion aside, this new finding does attribute a great amount of credibility to the scientific discipline of cycles; furthermore, it provides a greater comprehension in regards to ‘time-linked’ measurements such as short-term, medium-term  and long-term cycles. Examples would be the 11 year sunspot cycle, the 26,000 year precession cycle, and the Milankovitch or Eccentricity cycle with a 100,000 and 410,000 cycle.

In a new study published in the scientific journal Geology, researchers Ludwig Luthardt, professor at the Natural History Museum in Chemnitz, and Ronald Rößler, professor at Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, describe how they found evidence in ancient tree rings, identifying a solar sunspot cycle that occurred millions of years ago and compared it to recent cycles . “The median tree-ring curve of that period revealed a 10.62 year cycle, the duration of which is almost identical to the modern 11 year solar cycle we see today,” said Luthardt.

Sunspot activity swings between a period known as ‘solar maximum’, at which time an enormous amount of radiation is released through the development of powerful streams of charged particles which is released in various forms such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes, and purging filaments.

When a percentage of these particles penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field and continue into the upper and lower atmosphere, the measured effects are captured in assorted forms of Flora such as tree-rings, lake bottom sediment, and deep ice cores. Such high-resolution records are commonly used for reconstructing climatic variations in the younger geological history.

The team discovered large wooded tree trunks from the early Permian Fossil Forest of Chemnitz, southeast Germany. This region had been covered by lava during a volcanic eruption during the Permian period, offering a historical record of Sun activity. “For the first time we applied dendrochronological methods (tree-ring dating) – to Paleozoic trees in order to recognize annual variations; says Rößler.

The team found that sunspot activity recorded 300 million years ago as reflected in tree ring archived analysis, matches almost identically with today’s caused fluctuations of cosmic radiation input to the atmosphere.

 

BREAKING NEWS: A New Powerful Study Affirms Battros 2012 Equation

When Earth overheats, it finds its way to maintain its ambient temperature. In very much the same way humans sweat through our pores to cool off, in like manner, Earth sweats by producing increased mantle plume activity.

New research released this week confirms increased heat from Earth’s core strengthens the flow viscous material (liquefied rock) upward through the mantle having an effect on tectonic plates, including seamounts which in-turn heats the oceans.

For decades, scientists have theorized that the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates is driven largely by negative buoyancy created as they cool. New research, however, shows plate dynamics are driven significantly by the additional force of heat drawn from the Earth’s core.

The new findings also challenge the theory that underwater mountain ranges known as mid-ocean ridges are passive boundaries between moving plates. The findings show the East Pacific Rise, the Earth’s dominant mid-ocean ridge, is dynamic as heat is transferred.

David B. Rowley, professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, and fellow researchers came to the conclusions by combining observations of the East Pacific Rise with insights from modeling of the mantle flow there. The findings were published Dec. 23 in Science Advances.

“We see strong support for significant deep mantle contributions of heat-to-plate dynamics in the Pacific hemisphere,” said Rowley, lead author of the paper. “Heat from the base of the mantle contributes significantly to the strength of the flow of heat in the mantle and to the resultant plate tectonics.”

The researchers estimate up to approximately 50 percent of plate dynamics are driven by heat from the Earth’s core and as much as 20 terawatts of heat flow between the core and the mantle.

Unlike most other mid-ocean ridges, the East Pacific Rise as a whole has not moved east-west for 50 to 80 million years, even as parts of it have been spreading asymmetrically. These dynamics cannot be explained solely by the subduction of a process whereby one plate moves under another or sinks. Researchers in the new findings attribute the phenomena to buoyancy created by heat arising from deep in the Earth’s interior.

“The East Pacific Rise is stable because the flow arising from the deep mantle has captured it,” Rowley said. “This stability is directly linked to and controlled by mantle upwelling,” or the release of heat from Earth’s core through the mantle to the surface.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, particularly in the South Atlantic, also may have direct coupling with deep mantle flow, he added.

“The consequences of this research are very important for all scientists working on the dynamics of the Earth, including plate tectonics, seismic activity and volcanism,” said Jean Braun of the German Research Centre for Geosciences, who was not involved in the research.

The forces at work

Convection, or the flow of mantle material transporting heat, drives plate tectonics. As envisioned in the current research, heating at the base of the mantle reduces the density of the material, giving it buoyancy and causing it to rise through the mantle and couple with the overlying plates adjacent to the East Pacific Rise. The deep mantle-derived buoyancy, together with plate cooling at the surface, creates negative buoyancy that together explain the observations along the East Pacific Rise and surrounding Pacific subduction zones.

A debate about the origin of the driving forces of plate tectonics dates back to the early 1970s. Scientists have asked: Does the buoyancy that drives plates primarily derive from plate cooling at the surface, analogous with cooling and overturning of lakes in the winter? Or, is there also a source of positive buoyancy arising from heat at the base of the mantle associated with heat extracted from the core and, if so, how much does it contribute to plate motions? The latter theory is analogous to cooking oatmeal: Heat at the bottom causes the oatmeal to rise, and heat loss along the top surface cools the oatmeal, causing it to sink.

Until now, most assessments have favored the first scenario, with little or no contribution from buoyancy arising from heat at the base. The new findings suggest that the second scenario is required to account for the observations, and that there is an approximately equal contribution from both sources of the buoyancy driving the plates, at least in the Pacific basin.

“Based on our models of mantle convection, the mantle may be removing as much as half of Earth’s total convective heat budget from the core,” Rowley said.

Much work has been performed over the past four decades to represent mantle convection by computer simulation. Now the models will have to be revised to account for mantle upwelling, according to the researchers.

“The implication of our work is that textbooks will need to be rewritten,” Rowley said.

The research could have broader implications for understanding the formation of the Earth, Braun said. “It has important consequences for the thermal budget of the Earth and the so-called ‘secular cooling’ of the core. If heat coming from the core is more important than we thought, this implies that the total heat originally stored in the core is much larger than we thought.

“Also, the magnetic field of the Earth is generated by flow in the liquid core, so the findings of Rowley and co-authors are likely to have implications for our understanding of the existence, character and amplitude of the Earth’s magnetic field and its evolution through geological time,” Braun added.

Global Warming Advocates Now Admit to ‘Cycles’ of Warming and Cooling Trends

A drought on the scale of the legendary Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s would have similarly destructive effects on U.S. agriculture today, despite technological and agricultural advances, a new study finds. Additionally, warming temperatures could lead to crop losses at the scale of the Dust Bowl, even in normal precipitation years by the mid-21st century, University of Chicago scientists conclude.

The study was published on Dec. 12th in the science journal ‘Nature Plants’. It simulated the effect of extreme weather from the Dust Bowl era on today’s maize, soy and wheat crops. The lead authors are Michael Glotter and Joshua Elliott of the Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy at the Computation Institute. “We expected to find the system much more resilient because 30 percent of production is now irrigated in the United States, and because we’ve abandoned corn production in more severely drought-stricken places such as Oklahoma and west Texas,” said Elliott, a fellow and research scientist at the center and the Computation Institute. “But we found the opposite: The system was just as sensitive to drought and heat as it was in the 1930s.”

The severe damage of the Dust Bowl was actually caused by three distinct droughts in quick succession, occurring in 1930-31, 1933-34 and 1936. From 1933 to 1939, wheat yields declined by double-digit percentages, reaching a peak loss of 32 percent in 1933. This historical warming trend had severe economic and societal consequences dramatically dropping the value of land throughout the Great Plains states and displacing millions of people.

In the eight decades since that crisis, agricultural practices have changed dramatically. But many technological and geographical shifts were intended to optimize average yield instead of resilience to severe weather, leaving many staple crops vulnerable to seasons of low precipitation and/or high temperatures. As a result, when the researchers simulated the effects of the 1936 drought upon today’s agriculture, they still observed roughly 40 percent losses in maize and soy yield, while wheat crops declined by 30 percent. The harm would be 50 percent worse than the 2012 drought, which caused nearly $100 billion of damage to the U.S. economy.

“We knew a Dust Bowl-type drought would be devastating even for modern agriculture, but we expected technological advancements to mitigate those damages much more than our results suggested,” said Glotter, a University of Chicago graduate student in geophysical sciences. “Technology has evolved to make yields as high as possible in normal years. But as extreme events become more frequent and severe, we may have to reframe how we breed crops and select for variance and resilience, not just for average yield.”

Strategies to avoid these agricultural crises and their severe ripple effects for global food security could include switching to more drought-resistant crops such as sorghum, moving wheat, soy and maize agriculture to northern U.S. states, or developing new strains of crops with higher heat tolerance. But none of these preventative efforts are cheap, and they may be impossible for developing countries to implement, the authors said.

“Cyclical warming trends is expected to alter the severity and frequency of future droughts. Understanding the interactions of weather extremes and a changing agricultural system is therefore critical to effectively prepare for and respond to the next Dust Bowl.”

BREAKING NEWS: More Signs Of Coming Pole Shift

A moving viscous flow within the Earth’s molten iron core has been discovered by scientists using the latest satellite data that helps create an ‘x-ray’ view of the planet.

Lead researcher Dr Phil Livermore, from the University of Leeds, said: “The European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites are providing our sharpest x-ray image yet of the Earth’s outer core. We’ve not only seen this moving flow clearly for the first time, but we understand why it’s there.”

“We can explain it as an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole, like the moving stream in the atmosphere,” said Dr Livermore, from the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds.

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Because of the outer core’s remote location under 3,000 kilometers of rock, for many years scientists have studied the Earth’s outer and inner core by measuring the planet’s magnetic field – one of the few options available.

Previous research had found that changes in the magnetic field indicated that iron in the outer core was moving faster in the northern hemisphere, mostly under Alaska and Siberia. But new data from the Swarm satellites has revealed these changes are actually caused by a moving flow moving at more than 40 kilometers per year. This is three times faster than typical outer core speeds and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the speed at which the Earth’s tectonic plates move.

The European Space Agency’s Swarm mission features a trio of satellites which simultaneously measure and untangle the different magnetic signals which stem from Earth’s outer and inner core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. They have provided the clearest information yet about the magnetic field created in the core.

The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, found the position of the moving flow aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the outer core. The jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards this boundary from both sides, which is squeezed out sideways.

Co-author Professor Rainer Hollerbach, from the School of Mathematics at Leeds, said: “Of course, you need a force to move the liquid towards the boundary. This could be provided by buoyancy, or perhaps more likely from changes in the magnetic field within the outer core.”

Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, said: “Further surprises are likely. The magnetic field is forever changing, and this could even make the moving flow switch direction.

“This feature is one of the first deep-Earth discoveries made possible by Swarm. With the unprecedented resolution now possible, it’s a very exciting time – we simply don’t know what we’ll discover next about our planet.”

Co-author Dr Chris Finlay, from the Technical University of Denmark said: “We know more about the Sun than the Earth’s core. The discovery of this jet is an exciting step in learning more about our planet’s inner workings.”

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One Of The Most Dangerous Submarine Volcanoes On Earth

One of the most dangerous submarine volcanoes where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean plates are moving apart.

axial_submarine_volcano_scienceofcycles

“The new network allowed us to see in incredible detail where the faults are, and which were active during the eruption,” said lead author William Wilcock, a UW professor of oceanography. The new paper in Science is one of three studies published together that provide the first formal analyses of the seismic vibrations, seafloor movements and rock created during an April 2015 eruption off the Oregon coast. “We have a new understanding of the behavior of caldera dynamics that can be applied to other volcanoes all over the world.”

The studies are based on data collected by the Cabled Array, a National Science Foundation-funded project that brings electrical power and internet to the seafloor. The observatory, completed just months before the eruption, provides new tools to understand one of the test sites for understanding Earth’s volcanism.

Axial volcano has had at least three eruptions, that we know of, over the past 20 years,” said Rick Murray, director of the NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which also funded the research. “Instruments used by Ocean Observatories Initiative scientists are giving us new opportunities to understand the inner workings of this volcano, and of the mechanisms that trigger volcanic eruptions in many environments.

“The information will help us predict the behavior of active volcanoes around the globe,” Murray said.

It’s a little-known fact that most of Earth’s volcanism takes place underwater. Axial Volcano rises 0.7 miles off the seafloor some 300 miles off the Pacific Northwest coast, and its peak lies about 0.85 miles below the ocean’s surface. Just as on land, we learn about ocean volcanoes by studying vibrations to see what is happening deep inside as plates separate and magma rushes up to form new crust.

The submarine location has some advantages. Typical ocean crust is just 4 miles (6 km) thick, roughly five times thinner than the crust that lies below land-based volcanoes. The magma chamber is not buried as deeply, and the hard rock of ocean crust generates crisper seismic images.

“One of the advantages we have with seafloor volcanoes is we really know very well where the magma chamber is,” Wilcock said.
“The challenge in the oceans has always been to get good observations of the eruption itself.”

All that changed when the Cabled Array was installed and instruments were turned on. Analysis of vibrations leading up to and during the event show an increasing number of small earthquakes, up to thousands a day, in the previous months. The vibrations also show strong tidal triggering, with six times as many earthquakes during low tides as high tides while the volcano approached its eruption.

Once lava emerged, movement began along a newly formed crack, or dike, that sloped downward and outward inside the 2-mile-wide by 5-mile-long caldera.

“There has been a longstanding debate among volcanologists about the orientation of ring faults beneath calderas: Do they slope toward or away from the center of the caldera?” Wilcock said. “We were able to detect small earthquakes and locate them very accurately, and see that they were active while the volcano was inflating.”

The two previous eruptions sent lava south of the volcano’s rectangular crater. This eruption produced lava to the north. The seismic analysis shows that before the eruption, the movement was on the outward-dipping ring fault. Then a new crack or dike formed, initially along the same outward-dipping fault below the eastern wall of the caldera. The outward-sloping fault has been predicted by so-called “sandbox models,” but these are the most detailed observations to confirm that they happen in nature. That crack moved southward along this plane until it hit the northern limit of the previous 2011 eruption.

“In areas that have recently erupted, the stress has been relieved,” Wilcock said. “So the crack stopped going south and then it started going north.” Seismic evidence shows the crack went north along the eastern edge of the caldera, then lava pierced the crust’s surface and erupted inside and then outside the caldera’s northeastern edge.

The dike, or crack, then stepped to the west and followed a line north of the caldera to about 9 miles (15 km) north of the volcano, with thousands of small explosions on the way.

“At the northern end there were two big eruptions and those lasted nearly a month, based on when the explosions were happening and when the magma chamber was deflating,” Wilcock said.

The activity continued throughout May, then lava stopped flowing and the seismic vibrations shut off. Within a month afterward the earthquakes dropped to just 20 per day.

The volcano has not yet started to produce more earthquakes as it gradually rebuilds toward another eruption, which typically happen every decade or so. The observatory centered on Axial Volcano is designed to operate for at least 25 years. “The cabled array offers new opportunities to study volcanism and really learn how these systems work,” Wilcock said. “This is just the beginning.”