Francis Ludlow

Current Position: 

Assistant Professor of Medieval Environmental History, Trinity College Dublin
Ziff Environmental Fellow: 2011-2013

Faculty Host: 

Francis Ludlow is a historical climatologist studying the long neglected documentary record of annalistic and chronicle sources compiled in Ireland from the fifth to the seventeenth centuries AD, with respect to their rich evidence for the occurrence of historic meteorological extremes, natural hazards and their impacts upon medieval Irish society and the biosphere.

Francis received a BA in geography and economics in 2003, and a Postgraduate Diploma in statistics in 2005, from Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded a PhD in geography by Trinity College Dublin in 2011. In his doctoral work, Francis conducted the first fully systematic survey of Irish annalistic sources, quantifying and categorising the abundant climatic records contained therein. He showed the vast majority of these to be genuine and reliable for use in climatic reconstruction as well as studies of the impacts of weather extremes on society and the biosphere. In 2006, Francis was a Visiting Scholar in Queen's University Belfast, where he conducted an initial comparison of documentary records of meteorological extremes to the Irish oak dendrochronological (tree-ring) record. From 2008 to 2009, he worked in University College Cork as part of the Extreme Weather, Climate and Natural Disasters in Ireland Project, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland. From 2007 to 2011, he was a Lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, and from 2009 to 2011 he was a Research Fellow with the Trinity Long Room Hub, working towards the creation and development of the Irish Environmental History Network.

As an Environmental Fellow, Francis worked with Michael McCormick in the Department of History, seeking to create a unified high-resolution chronology of meteorological extremes and abrupt climatic changes for Ireland, utilising the Irish annalistic and dendrochronological records, in conjunction with Northern Hemisphere ice-core records. This formed the basis of an investigation into the impacts of environmental stresses upon Irish society in the medieval period. Ireland occupies a climatically sensitive Northeast Atlantic location, sensitive to ocean circulation changes and the influences of major modes of atmospheric variability such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, and is a prime location at which to study past climatic changes and their influences on society and the biosphere.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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