Canadian Climate History Workshop, 2008

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Event Date: Oct 23 2008 – Oct 24 2008
Venue: University of Western Ontario
City: London
Country: Canada
Primary Contact Name: Liza Piper & Alan MacEachern

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.

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



Archived Presentations

Citation: Piper, Liza. “Introduction to Early Canadian Environmental Data Project.” Canadian Climate History Workshop. 23 October 2008.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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