The University of Kansas Libraries
The University of Kansas Libraries holds, or has access to, a wealth of cartographic information for students studying the complex issue of climate change. The materials on exhibit here are just a small sample of the many cartographic resources available that illustrate components of human awareness and understanding of our climate: the development in observation and documentation of weather and mapping of the Earth’s climate and the various issues associated with climate change.
Maps, whether published separately, together in an atlas, or as illustrations in books, journal articles, or digital media, have long been used to communicate and understand the many complex relationships that exist on Earth. The ancient Greeks were aware of variations in climate and theorized about why particular regions were thus more or less inhibited. The mathematician and cosmographer Claudius Ptolemy (ca. 87-150 A.D.) of Alexandria described seven climatic zones in his work the Almagest. However, these climate zones, which often appear on medieval maps, were based on calculations of observations of the length of the day and not the averages of attributes such as temperature or precipitation.
Climate maps, as we have come accustomed to seeing, did not appear until the Nineteenth century. Thus began a period focused on documenting the weather and climate of the Earth using scientific methods and then publishing the findings. As new methods evolved for monitoring the current environment and reconstructing past climates, scientists began explore the reciprocal relationship of humans and their environment. This increased concern and awareness resulted in new interconnections as demonstrated by many of the current maps on display in this exhibit.
Maps, Geography and Environmental Studies Librarian
University of Kansas Libraries