Canadian Climate History Workshop, 2008

A two-day workshop held at the University of Western Ontario, which featured speakers from across Canada, as well as from the United States and Spain.

Canadian Climate History workshop program

Workshop objectives:

  • Assess available documentary materials for the study of past climates in Canada
  • Prioritize the most important collections / datasets — from the perspective of Canadian history, the physical and natural sciences, and public interest (policy)
  • Identify how best to work with and make broadly accessible this material
  • Identify research strengths and weaknesses in Canadian climate history

Organizers:

Presenters:

  • Katharine Anderson“Climate History and Science: Synergy or Lowest Common Denominator?” An associate professor in the Science and Society department at York University, Anderson’s research focuses on meteorology and oceanography.
  • Richard Anderson“Measuring and Mapping Toronto’s Heat Island” – Anderson is a sessional lecturer in the Geography department at York University. He studies historical and cultural geography as well as environmental history.
  • George Colpitts“Reading the Climate in Hudson’s Bay Company Records” – An assistant professor of History at the University of Calgary, Colpitts studies the history of Canada’s fur trade, as well as Western and Northern Canadian history.
  • Martin Comeau“the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Climate Records and Information Special Interest Section (CRISIS)” – Comeau is an archivist at the City of Winnipeg Archives and recently served as the Secretary of the Association of Canadian Archives’ Municipal Archives Special Interest Section
  • Brian Fagan: “‘And on that day the earth will be burned to ashes’: An Archaeologist Looks at Ancient Climate Change” – Fagan began his career in a Zambian Museum before moving the the United States. A longtime professor of Anthropology at the University of California, he recently retired from teaching. His writing is world-renowned. His latest book, The Great Warming, is part of a larger series dedicated to the history of climate change and related topics.
  • Ricardo Garcia Herrera: “Logbooks and Other Documentary Sources to Reconstruct Climate Variability in the Last 500 Years” – Ricardo García Herrera teaches Atmospheric Physics in the Complutense University in Madrid. He has done extensive research into climate reconstruction and was instrumental in bringing a large volume of ship logbooks together for climate researchers through Climatological Database for the World’s Oceans 1750-1850 (CLIWOC), which was released in 2003. García Herrera is also the co-ordinator of the Spanish network of climate reconstruction from documentary sources (RECLIDO).
  • Chris Kocot“Climate and Weather Records at Environment Canada” – Kocot is the Manager of the Data Development Unit at Environment Canada.
  • Katrina Moser“Using Historical Records of Climate Change in Paleoenvironmental Research”
    An associate professor of Geography at the University of Western Ontario, Moser is an expert on water quality and quantity issues.
  • Tim Newfield“The Making of a Global Climatic Event: Written Evidence, Natural Proxies, and Scholarly Debate, 1980-2008” – Newfield is a PhD candidate in History at McGill University. His historical interests concern environmental and biological phenomena of pre-industrial Europe.
  • Karen Pennesi“Archiving Indigenous Weather Knowledge: How & Why?”
    Pennesi teaches in the Anthropology department at the University of Western Ontario. Her research focuses on the mediating function of language in human relationships with nature.
  • Leah Sanders: “the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Climate Records and Information Special Interest Section (CRISIS)” – Sanders is an archivist at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.
  • Victoria Slonosky: “Two and a Half Centuries of Climate Variability from the St Lawrence Valley” Slonosky is a historical climatologist.
  • Scott St. George“Historical Climate Data from the Perspective of Physical Paleoclimatology” – A PhD candidate at the University of Arizona, St.George also works for the Geological Survey of Canada. He is an expert in dendrochronology and past environmental change.
  • Morley Thomas“Bibliographies: Climate Data & Meteorological History”
    Retired from his position of senior meteorologist at Environment Canada, Thomas is the foremost historian of Canadian meteorology.
  • Heather Tompkins: “Historical Climatology on the Southern Yukon Territory, 1842-1852”
    Tompkins is a geomatics technician in the Architecture and Geomatics section of Library and Archives Canada.
  • Charlotte Woodley“the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Climate Records and Information Special Interest Section (CRISIS)” – Woodley is an archivist at the Region of Waterloo Archives.

Participants

  • Tom Belton (Archives & Research Collection Centre, University of Western Ontario)
  • Colin Coates (Canadian Studies, Glendon College, York University)
  • Dagomar Degroot (PhD student History, York University)
  • Matthew Eisler (Harris Steel postdoctoral fellow, History, University of Western Ontario)
  • Lois Fenton (M.A. student Public History, University of Western Ontario)
  • Clare Gordon (Global Studies, Huron University College, University of Western Ontario)
  • Kimberley Gravelle (Environment Canada)
  • Noor Johnson (PhD student, McGill University)
  • Mike Kenigsberg (PhD student Geography, University of Western Ontario)
  • Arlen Leeming (MSc student Environment & Sustainability, University of Western Ontario)
  • Brian Luckman (Geography, University of Western Ontario)
  • Jeremy Marks (PhD student History, University of Western Ontario)
  • Jess Metcalfe (PhD student Environment & Sustainability, University of Western Ontario)
  • David Morimoto (PhD student Geography, University of Western Ontario)
  • Joy Parr (Geography, University of Western Ontario)
  • Tom Peace (PhD student History, York University)
  • Carolyn Podruchny (History, York University)
  • Bill Rannie (Geography, University of Winnipeg)
  • Cheryl Robertson (Data Analysis & Archives, Environment Canada)
  • Jeremy Schmidt (PhD student Geography, University of Western Ontario)
  • Bradley Skopyk (PhD student History, York University)
  • Andrew Watson (PhD student History, York University)
  • Krista Weger (PhD student History, York University)
  • James Woollett (History, Laval University)
  • Kimberley Schwartz (MSc, Environment & Sustainability, University of Western Ontario)
  • Craig Woodward (Postdoc, Geography, University of Western Ontario)

Presentation Details


Citation: Fagan, Brian. “And on that day the earth will be turned to ashes.” University of Western Ontario. 23 October, 2008.
Bio: Brian Fagan is emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been a leading writer on archaeology for more than three decades, and in recent years has written five best-selling books on historical climate change, including The Little Ice Age, The Long Summer, and his latest, The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.


Citation: Piper, Liza. “Introduction to Early Canadian Environmental Data Project.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 23 October 2008.
Running Time: 31:06
Bio: Liza Piper is an associate professor in History at the University of Alberta. She is also an executive member of NiCHE and the leader of the Early Canadian and Environmental Data project.
Abstract: This talk sets out the objectives of the Early Canada Environmental Data project to create digital resources that facilitated the study of historical data on Canadian environments and the efforts to date to achieve those ends. This includes the construction of a database and the significance of the information contained therein.


Citation: St. George, Scott. “Historical Climate Data from the Perspective of Physical Paleoclimatology.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 23 October 2008.
Running Time: 23:46
Bio: Scott St. George is a Research Scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa. His research focuses on past climate change, water resources, natural hazards and renewable energy.


Citation: Newfield, Tim. “The Making of a Global Climatic Event: Written Evidence, Natural Proxies, and Scholarly Debate, 1980-2008.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 23 October 2008.
Running Time: 17:13
Bio: Newfield is a PhD candidate in History at McGill University. His historical interests concern environmental and biological phenomena of pre-industrial Europe.
Abstract: This paper surveys the rise (from the early 1980s to 2008) of the so-called Dust-Veil Event of the mid sixth century CE. It seeks to illustrates the importance of the event for early medieval demographic and economic history. To do this it collects a range of natural proxies from around the earth, surveys the available written evidence, and demonstrates the value of a comparative approach. Throughout it is emphasized that before written sources are employed to discuss historical climatic events they must be a) situated into their textual environment, in order to discern their ability to tell us anything reliable about the material world, and b) considered alongside natural proxies, which are often (at least in the classical, medieval and early modern periods) our only sources of reliable data.


Citation: Moser, Katrina. “Using Historical Records of Climate Change in Paleoenvironmental Research.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 23 October 2008.
Running Time: 23:51
Bio: An associate professor of Geography at the University of Western Ontario, Moser is an expert on water quality and quantity issues.


Citation: Garcia Herrera, Ricardo. “Logbooks and Other Documentary Sources to Reconstruct Climate Variability in the Last 500 Years.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008.
Running Time: 74:30
Bio: Ricardo Garci­a Herrera teaches Atmospheric Physics in the Complutense University in Madrid. He has done extensive research into climate reconstruction and was instrumental in bringing a large volume of ship logbooks together for climate researchers through Climatological Database for the World’s Oceans 1750-1850 (CLIWOC), which was released in 2003. Garcia Herrera is also the co-ordinator of the Spanish network of climate reconstruction from documentary sources (RECLIDO)


Citation: Kocot, Chris. “Climate & Weather Records at Environment Canada.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008.
Running Time: 40:20
Bio: Kocot is the Manager of the Data Development Unit at Environment Canada.


Citation: Comeau, Martin and Leah Sanders. “On the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Climate Records and Information Special Interest Section (CRISIS).” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008
Running Time: 59:57
Bio: Martin Comeau is an archivist at the Winnipeg Archives. Leah Sanders is an archivist at Library and Archives Canada.


Citation: Colpitts, George. “Reading the Climate in Hudson’s Bay Company Records.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008.
Running Time: 34:45
Bio: An assistant professor of History at the University of Calgary, Colpitts studies the history of Canada’s fur trade, as well as Western and Northern Canadian history


Citation: Thomas, Morley. “Bibliographies: Climate Data & Meteorological History.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008.
Running Time: 10:57
Bio: Retired from his position of senior meteorologist at Environment Canada, Thomas is the foremost historian of Canadian meteorology.


Citation: Anderson, Richard. “Measuring and Mapping Toronto’s Heat Island.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008.
Running Time: 33:41
Bio: Anderson is a sessional lecturer in the Geography department at York University. He studies historical and cultural geography as well as environmental history.


Citation: Pennesi, Karen. “Archiving Indigenous Weather Knowledge: How & Why?” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 24 October 2008.[Watch this Presentation]
Running Time: 28:51
Bio: Dr. Karen Pennesi is an assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario. In her work, she investigates the role weather and climate forecasts play in different sociocultural contexts including rural communities of Northeast Brazil, and Inuit communities in Nunavut. Her research integrates theoretical dimensions of linguistic and ecological anthropology in analyses of how weather-related communicative practices are tied to particular historical, social, environmental and epistemological contexts.
Abstract: This presentation includes a discussion of the motivation for creating an online archive of indigenous weather knowledge as well as some practical issues of how to document what people know and how they come to know it. The aim of the archive is to facilitate cross-cultural comparisons and other research about patterns in environmental knowledge at a regional and global level.

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