New mathematical method shows how climate change led to the fall of an ancient civilization
A Rochester Institute of Technology researcher developed a mathematical method that shows climate change likely caused the rise and fall of an ancient civilization. In an article recently featured in the journal Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, Nishant Malik, assistant professor in RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, outlined the new technique he developed and showed how shifting monsoon patterns led to the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization, a Bronze Age civilization contemporary to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.
Malik developed a method to study paleoclimate time series, sets of data that tell us about past climates using indirect observations. For example, by measuring the presence of a particular isotope in stalagmites from a cave in South Asia, scientists were able to develop a record of monsoon rainfall in the region for the past 5,700 years. But as Malik notes, studying paleoclimate time series poses several problems that make it challenging to analyze them with mathematical tools typically used to understand climate.