This is a basic question concerning data availability. I am looking for global historic geo-spatial data covering the past 2,000 or 3,000 years. Variables of interest are biomes, temperature, precipitation, soil characteristics, mineral deposits, rivers etc. The data should come as multiple cross-sections rather than 3,000 year averages. Frequencies of not more than a few hundred years would be great.

As you are all well aware, geography is not constant over time. Human activity and a changing climate alter biomes, rivers dry up and are re-directed, mineral deposits are used an eventually exhausted, temperature and precipitation follow global and regional trends.

Paleoclimatology is an interesting field modeling long-term changes. Geo-spatial data on temperature and precipitation of the past few million years is freely available online. That is great, but this data is with its estimates usually averaged over a few thousand years not what I am looking for. I need a shorter time horizon with a higher frequency, as outlined in the first paragraph. Something like HYDE data for other variables.

There are estimates for small regions or individual countries for different points in history. That does not help as I need a global scale. Merging these smaller puzzle pieces together to create a global picture is often difficult as definitions, assumptions and map quality vary widely.

Projects like DARMC, AfricaMap, HYDE, PaleoClim and WorldClim have done a great job in putting together geo-spatial data in easily accessible formats at the larger geographic scale for different points in human history. However, there is still a lot missing.

I'm looking for any data sources that meet the following requirements:

  • Format: Any geo-coded/geospatial format. It can be points, lines, polygons or raster grids.
  • Spatial Extent: cover approximately the entire planet (or at least major regions)
  • Time Frame: covering the past 2,000 or 3,000 years in multiple cross-sections rather than 3,000 year averages. Frequencies of not more than a few hundred years would be great.
  • Topic: related to any of these or similar paleoclimate variables:
    • Biomes
    • Temperature
    • Precipitation
    • Soil characteristics
    • Mineral deposits
    • Rivers

I am looking forward to your suggestions. Any comments are welcome.


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