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Conceptualizing socio-hydrological drought processes: The case of the Maya collapse

Kuil, Linda and Carr, Gemma and Viglione, Alberto and Prskawetz, Alexia and Blöschl, Günter (2016) Conceptualizing socio-hydrological drought processes: The case of the Maya collapse. Water Resources Research, 52 (8). pp. 6222-6242. ISSN 00431397

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Abstract

With population growth, increasing water demands and climate change the need to understand the current and future pathways to water security is becoming more pressing. To contribute to addressing this challenge, we examine the link between water stress and society through socio-hydrological modeling. We conceptualize the interactions between an agricultural society with its environment in a stylized way. We apply the model to the case of the ancient Maya, a population that experienced a peak during the Classic Period (AD 600-830) and then declined during the ninth century. The hypothesis that modest drought periods played a major role in the society's collapse is explored. Simulating plausible feedbacks between water and society we show that a modest reduction in rainfall may lead to an 80% population collapse. Population density and crop sensitivity to droughts, however, may play an equally important role. The simulations indicate that construction of reservoirs results in less frequent drought impacts, but if the reservoirs run dry, drought impact may be more severe and the population drop may be larger.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: We would like to acknowledge financial support from the Austrian Science funds (FWF) as part of the Vienna Doctoral Programme on Water Resource Systems (DK W1219-N22). The data used in this paper are available in the cited references, tables and figures.
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Sozialpolitik > Demographie > Wittgenstein Centre
Version of the Document: Published
Variance from Published Version: None
Depositing User: Mohammad Al Hessan
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 15:00
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2017 16:42
Related URLs:
URI: http://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5925

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