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Recent Advances in the Historical Climatology of the Tropics and Subtropics

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  • 1 School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom, and School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • | 2 School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
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Recent years have seen major advances in the understanding of the historical climatology of tropical and subtropical areas, primarily through the analysis of documentary materials such as weather diaries, newspapers, personal correspondence, government records, and ship logs. This paper presents a critical review of these advances, drawing upon examples from across the tropics and subtropics. The authors focus in particular on the ways in which documentary evidence has been used to improve our understanding of 1) historical temperature variability, 2) fluctuations in annual and seasonal precipitation, and 3) the occurrence, severity, and impact of tropical cyclones. They also discuss the ways in which documentary evidence has been combined with information from natural archives to reconstruct historical El Niño and La Niña episodes. The article concludes with some suggestions for future research. These include the exploration of historical documents from hitherto under-researched regions and the application of new methodological approaches highlighted as part of the review.

*CURRENT AFFILIATION: Department of Geography, School of Social Science and Policy, King's College London, Strand, London, United Kingdom

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: David J. Nash, School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton, Lewes Road, Brighton BN 2 4GJ, United Kingdom., E-mail: d.j.nash@brighton.ac.uk

Recent years have seen major advances in the understanding of the historical climatology of tropical and subtropical areas, primarily through the analysis of documentary materials such as weather diaries, newspapers, personal correspondence, government records, and ship logs. This paper presents a critical review of these advances, drawing upon examples from across the tropics and subtropics. The authors focus in particular on the ways in which documentary evidence has been used to improve our understanding of 1) historical temperature variability, 2) fluctuations in annual and seasonal precipitation, and 3) the occurrence, severity, and impact of tropical cyclones. They also discuss the ways in which documentary evidence has been combined with information from natural archives to reconstruct historical El Niño and La Niña episodes. The article concludes with some suggestions for future research. These include the exploration of historical documents from hitherto under-researched regions and the application of new methodological approaches highlighted as part of the review.

*CURRENT AFFILIATION: Department of Geography, School of Social Science and Policy, King's College London, Strand, London, United Kingdom

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: David J. Nash, School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton, Lewes Road, Brighton BN 2 4GJ, United Kingdom., E-mail: d.j.nash@brighton.ac.uk
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