Learning from the past

The impact of abrupt climate changes on society and environment in Belgium

Current climate change has an important impact on human populations and the environment worldwide. The effects are also visible in Belgium, such as the recurring heat waves in 2022 or the devastating floods in Wallonia during the summer of 2021. However, this is not the first time we have faced abrupt climate changes. Our ancestors also experienced rapid climate changes with a temperature decrease of 1-2°C. However, due to the short duration of these events (lasting only 100 to 200 years) and the absence of written sources, it is challenging to assess their impact on society and the environment.

The LEAP project studies the impact of the 9300, 4200 and 3200 cal BP rapid climate changes on past societies and ecosystems in Belgium. This is done using a transdisciplinary approach combining palaeoclimatic, palaeoenvironmental and palaeomobility data and high-precision dating. By improving our understanding of the climatic effects on the environment and populations in pre-complex and early-complex societies during the Early and Middle-Late Holocene in the Meuse basin of Belgium, we can better address the challenges we face today in this region. This includes extreme weather events like droughts, floods and forest fires, as well as population movements and adaptations.

To achieve these objectives, (1) Belgian cave deposits (speleothems), (2) peat bogs, and (3) human remains in and around the Belgian Meuse basin are studied.

BB-LAB Team-members

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