Through an environmental archaeology approach to research, the archaeological record offers deep datasets relating to past climatic, environmental, and social change. As the scientific community looks toward paleorecords to model future environmental changes in response to climate change, the nature of the archaeological record is such that a wide array of data is recovered that provide direct and proxy records of variations in vegetation and animal communities, hydrological conditions, and the landscape in response to past climate changes. The precise chronological nature of these records enables correlation with paleoclimate models, and incorporation into modeling the future responses of global ecosystems to our rapidly changing climate. Environmental archaeology also informs restoration and conservation efforts by creating a baseline state for ecological communities and the geomorphic landscape as they existed at various points in the past.
Beyond environmental change, the behavioral contexts of these rapidly changing past climates and environments provides information on how humans have adapted to climate change in the past. At a theoretical and philosophical level, information on the cultural responses to significant episodes of environmental and climatic changes has the potential to offer important insights on how we as communities might begin to deal with the future we are facing.
Through 2017 and 2018, NAC is launching an initiative to fund this research through grant, member, and donor contributions. NAC will communicate this information to the scientific community, partner organizations, agencies, governments, and public through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, public speaking events, and publicly available and open scientific research to make broad social and public policy impacts.