Mayewski, Kurbatov collaborate on ice core study covered by Phys.org
Paul Mayewski, professor and director of the Climate Change Institute (CCI) at the University of Maine, is a co-author on a study that was the focus of a University of Nottingham news release published by Phys.org. Mayewski collaborated with a team of researchers to study an ice core in the Swiss-Italian Alps that yielded evidence showing a seventh century switch from gold to silver currencies in western Europe occurred a quarter of a century earlier than previously thought, the release states. Using ultra-high resolution laser analysis of elements on the ice core; along with markers of volcanic eruptions and analysis of tephra (volcanic glass) led by Andrei Kurbatov, associate professor and researcher in CCI; data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and UMaine’s Climate Reanalyzer to provide insight on wind directions and origins of lead pollution in the Alps resulting from silver mining, the research team achieved a new level of precision in their results. The results of the interdisciplinary Historical Ice Core Project (HICP) have implications for the history of the European monetary system, and for established knowledge about trade and the economy at the time, according to the release.
Archaeology and Science magazines, as well as United Kingdom publications The Sun and Metro, also reported on related research, which helped determine why 536 was the “worst year in human history,” according to medieval historian Michael McCormick, chair of the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past. McCormick teamed with Mayewski to determine a massive eruption took place in Iceland at the beginning of 536, followed by two more in 540 and 547. This threw vast amounts of ash into the air and kick-started a chain of events which plunged Europe into economic stagnation lasting until 640, Metro reported. History also reported on the research.