Samuel White

Samuel White
pas labex
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

17/02/2020 - 10/07/2020


Histoire moderne

Fonction d’origine

Professeur associé

Institution d’origine

Ohio State University, Department of History (États-Unis)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies

As a fellow of the “Science Meets Humanities” Programme, I would pursue ongoing work to coordinate and improve methods in historical climate reconstruction from human records. This project is being conducted through the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies (CRIAS) working group. Personal documents, archival materials, early instrumental observations, and artefacts such as flood markers—the “archives of societies”—serve a unique role in understanding climatic variability and change. They provide precise climate and weather information from annual to daily resolution at defined locations for all seasons as well as their societal impacts, perceptions and reactions. Nevertheless, using the archives of societies poses significant challenges. Their information is neither as continuous nor homogenous as that provided by natural proxies. They require careful interpretation to overcome problems of subjectivity and errors of recording and transmission. Historical climatologists have independently developed methods to address these problems but have not yet coordinated global best practices in source interpretation and production of data for use by paleoclimatologists and modelers. The PAGES CRIAS working group aims to address these challenges through a series of workshops and publications focused on methodological studies and innovations. As a resident of IMéRA I could focus on PAGES CRIAS work, while bringing in researchers from the Aix-Marseille community into the project.


I received my M.A. from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) in 2002 and my Ph.D. in history from Columbia University (New York) in 2008. I was assistant professor Oberlin College for five years before moving to Ohio State University, where I was promoted to tenured associate professor. My research encompasses topics in global environmental history, with a focus on reconstructing historical climates, human impacts and adaptations. My first monograph, The Climate of Rebellion (Cambridge University Press, 2011), demonstrated how population growth, ecological pressures, and climate fluctuations drove the crisis and transformation of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries. It received major awards including the Middle East Studies Association Albert Hourani prize. My second monograph, A Cold Welcome (Harvard University Press, 2017) explores the role of climate in early European exploration and colonies in North America; it has received international recognition and awards. I have published more than two dozen chapters and articles in reviewed publications, including Environmental History and Interdisciplinary History. With Dagomar Degroot I founded and directed the Climate History Network, a growing interdisciplinary professional network for scholars working on historical climate reconstruction and impacts. As lead editor of the recent Palgrave Handbook of Climate History and steering committee member of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies (CRIAS) working group, I have led efforts to coordinate and improved methods in global historical climatology.