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Maya civilisation's collapse linked to climate change: Study

Published on Nov 9, 2012 7:53 AM
The Caana pyramid in Caracol, Belize is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on Nov 8, 2012. In a study led by Penn State anthropologist Dr. Douglas Kennett, researchers looked at archaeological sites like Caana for evidence of ancient weather patterns. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - For a clue to the possible impact of climate change on modern society, a study suggests a look back at the end of classic Maya civilisation, which disintegrated into famine, war and collapse as a long-term wet weather pattern shifted to drought.

An international team of researchers compiled a detailed climate record that tracks 2,000 years of wet and dry weather in present-day Belize, where Maya cities developed from the year 300 to 1000.

Using data locked in stalagmites - mineral deposits left by dripping water in caves - and the rich archeological evidence created by the Maya, the team reported its findings in the journal Science on Thursday.

Unlike the current global warming trend, which is spurred by human activities including the emission of atmosphere-heating greenhouse gases, the change in the Central American climate during the collapse of the Maya civilisation was due to a massive, undulating, natural weather pattern.

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