A Caltech Library Service

Methods and future directions for paleoclimatology in the Maya Lowlands

Douglas, Peter M. J. and Brenner, Mark and Curtis, Jason H. (2016) Methods and future directions for paleoclimatology in the Maya Lowlands. Global and Planetary Change, 138 . pp. 3-24. ISSN 0921-8181.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


A growing body of paleoclimate data indicates that periods of severe drought affected the Maya Lowlands of southeastern Mexico and northern Central America, especially during the Terminal Classic period (ca. 800–950 CE), raising the possibility that climate change contributed to the widespread collapse of many Maya polities at that time. A broad range of paleoclimate proxy methods have been applied in the Maya Lowlands and the data derived from these methods are sometimes challenging for archeologists and other non-specialists to interpret. This paper reviews the principal methods used for paleoclimate inference in the region and the rationale for climate proxy interpretation to help researchers working in the Maya Lowlands make sense of paleoclimate datasets. In particular, we focus on analyses of speleothems and lake sediment cores. These two paleoclimate archives have been most widely applied in the Maya Lowlands and have the greatest potential to provide insights into climate change impacts on the ancient Maya. We discuss the development of chronologies for these climate archives, the proxies for past climate change found within them, and how these proxy variables are interpreted. Finally, we present strategies for improving our understanding of proxy paleoclimate data from the Maya Lowlands, including multi-proxy analyses, assessment of spatial variability in past climate change, combined analysis of climate models and proxy data, and the integration of paleoclimatology and archeology.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Received 24 December 2014, Revised 20 July 2015, Accepted 29 July 2015, Available online 31 July 2015.
Subject Keywords:Paleoclimatology; Maya archeology; Paleolimnology; Speleothems; Multi-proxy analysis; Quaternary geochronology
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160422-134338695
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Peter M.J. Douglas, Mark Brenner, Jason H. Curtis, Methods and future directions for paleoclimatology in the Maya Lowlands, Global and Planetary Change, Volume 138, March 2016, Pages 3-24, ISSN 0921-8181, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:66417
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Apr 2016 20:49
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 09:56

Repository Staff Only: item control page