Conceptualizing sociohydrological drought processes: The case of the Maya collapse

Kuil, L., Carr, G., Viglione, A., Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, A., & Blöschl, G. (2016). Conceptualizing sociohydrological drought processes: The case of the Maya collapse. Water Resources Research 52 (8) 6222-6242. 10.1002/2015WR018298.

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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. Index terms: 1812 Drought (4303) 1834 Human impacts (4323) 4330 Vulnerability. Keywords: socio-hydrology, Ancient Maya, drought, vulnerability. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: Romeo Molina
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2016 07:48
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:41

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