Environmental lessons from Angkor

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Another one up for climate change – analysis of tree ring data from Vietnam give us a better understanding of how climate change in the 14th and 15th centuries contributed to the collapse of Angkor in an open-access article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

cambodia, angkor wat front gate
photo credit: Alex Grechman


Climate as a contributing factor in the demise of Angkor, Cambodia

PNAS, 29 March 2010

Did climate influence Angkor’s collapse?
e! Science News, 29 March 010

Angkor Wat doomed by drought, floods, suggests tree ring study
USA Today, 29 March 2010

Did Climate Influence Angkor’s Collapse? Evidence Suggests Changing Environment Can Bring Down a Civilization
Science Daily, 30 March 2010

Drought and flooding led to collapse of Angkor
LA Times, 31 March 2010

Climate blamed in fall of Angkor

Phnom Penh Post, 31 March 2010

Angkor lesson for cities

The Telegraph (Calcutta), 01 April 2010
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Dendrochronology sheds light on Angkor's collapse

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Stories about Angkor’s collapse makes it sound like there was one event that caused a civilisation to fall; I rather think there’s usually a confluence of factors. In Angkor, we can now add drought to the list which includes deforestation, breakdown of the water management system and attacks from neighbouring Siam. The conclusion of drought comes from a dendrochronology analysis, or the dating by tree rings, which is in itself a surprising technique because tree-ring dating is more reliable in temeperate climates where the seasonal changes produce more visible tree rings. I believe this may be first, or at the very least one of the few, instance where dendrochronology has been used in Southeast Asia (corrections, of course, are very welcome).

IMG_2027
photo credit: Hazel Motes

Drought might have collapsed Cambodian Angkor city
AP, 18 February 2009
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