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

Linda Kuil, Gemma Carr, Alberto Viglione, Alexia Prskawetz, Günter Blöschl

Publikation: Wissenschaftliche FachzeitschriftOriginalbeitrag in FachzeitschriftBegutachtung

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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.
OriginalspracheEnglisch
Seiten (von - bis)6222-6242
FachzeitschriftWater Resources Research
Jahrgang52
Ausgabenummer8
DOIs
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 26 Sept. 2016
Extern publiziertJa

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