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Charuta Kulkarni

Charuta Kulkarni

PhD (Earth & Environmental Sciences), PGD (Archaeology), MSc (Geology)

About

21
Publications
5,797
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113
Citations
Introduction
Building upon background training in palaeoecology, archaeology, and geology, my principal research interests lie in exploring long-term human-environmental interactions across the Holocene. This interdisciplinary work involves integrating proxy-data from sedimentary archives, climate models, and historic records using statistical means. My technical competencies include: * Sediment coring * Pollen-charcoal analyses * Sedimentology-geochemistry *Climate History-Archaeology * Statistical methods in palaeoecology including REVEALS landscape modelling, Bayesian modelling, Rarefaction, Principal Components Analysis * Proficiency with Excel, R, and MATLAB
Additional affiliations
September 2018 - present
The Open University (UK)
Position
  • Fellow
Description
  • Leading Project EARNEST in examining long-term transformations of Western Ghats agroforestry systems with respect to anthropogenic fires and monsoons across the Common Era. Please find more on Project EARNEST at https://mscaearnest.wordpress.com/about/.
January 2017 - May 2017
City University of New York - Hunter College
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • In addition to managing fundamental earth science courses for non-STEM, I independently designed-ran a Special Topic course, "The Paleoclimate Scientist’s Toolbox" for earth science/anthropology majors and for Master's students in earth science education.
January 2017 - September 2017
Lamont - Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Reconstructing long-term land-cover and fire-regimes; compiling historic land-use and demographic scenarios; synthesizing ecological-social-climatic datasets
Education
August 2010 - September 2016
CUNY Graduate Center
Field of study
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
August 2010 - August 2012
CUNY Graduate Center
Field of study
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
August 2007 - May 2008

Publications

Publications (21)
Article
Full-text available
Recent geoarchaeological studies of 20 m thick colluvial-alluvial deposits in the Krishna Valley around Wai, District Satara, Maharashtra, showed that the antiquity of these deposits probably belong to the Middle Pleistocene. This inference is based on discovery of an in situ large Acheulian flake on basalt in laterite-rich pebbly-cobbly gravel at...
Conference Paper
This study examines the interactions of environmental and social dynamics in Central Balkans over the past millennium, a period that experienced three major climatic phases (Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age, and the warm 20th century). Meanwhile, the same period witnessed a complex human history with the emergence-rise-decline of the Ottoma...
Article
Full-text available
Building science–policy interfaces is essential for envisioning pragmatic environmental solutions. Drawing from the Western Ghats of India, we identify mutual areas of interest, or "commons", where specific environmental management issues can benefit from a long-term perspective, encouraging paleoscience–policy connections.
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing need for more sustainable approaches to tackle future environmental and human livelihood challenges, including biodiversity losses following land-use intensification, and climate impacts under future warmer conditions (Fischer et al. 2018). Conservation plans often lack the full knowledge base to address such challenges (Fig. 1),...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying the impacts of anthropogenic fires on biodiversity is imperative for human-influenced tropical rainforests because: i) these ecosystems have been transformed by human-induced fires for millennia; and ii) their effective management is essential for protecting the world's terrestrial biodiversity in the face of global environmental change...
Preprint
Identifying the impacts of anthropogenic fires on biodiversity is imperative for human-influenced tropical rainforests because – i) these ecosystems have been transformed by human-induced fires for millennia; and ii) their effective management is essential for protecting the world’s terrestrial biodiversity in the face of global environmental chang...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a 600-year well-dated, high-resolution Central Balkan paleo-record including the Little Ice Age (LIA; 1450–1850 CE). Utilizing pollen-based REVEALS modelling estimates, geochemical indicators, rarefaction analyses and the AMS 14C-based Bacon age model, this first-hand record from the Sava Basin reveals the transformation of the...
Article
Full-text available
Water availability is fundamental to societies and ecosystems, but our understanding of variations in hydroclimate (including extreme events, flooding, and decadal periods of drought) is limited because of a paucity of modern instrumental observations that are distributed unevenly across the globe and only span parts of the 20th and 21st centuries....
Article
Full-text available
Water availability is fundamental to societies and ecosystems, but our understanding of variations in hydroclimate (including extreme events, flooding, and decadal periods of drought) is limited because of a paucity of modern instrumental observations that are distributed unevenly across the globe and only span parts of the 20th and 21st centuries....
Thesis
The primary objective of this doctoral dissertation is to reconstruct the environmental history of the Central Balkans (Serbia) over the past millennium utilizing biological proxies (pollen, spores, and charcoal), geochemical signals through X-ray fluorescence (XRF), statistical analyses, and atomic mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C chronology. This diss...
Conference Paper
Using biological proxies (pollen, spores, and charcoal), geochemical signals through X-ray fluorescence, and AMS 14C based chronology, we present a correlation between two new high resolution Little Ice Age (LIA) records from the Central Balkans that are part of one of the least studied regions of Europe. The sediments extracted from a western sink...
Conference Paper
We examine a multi-centennial Balkan record of vegetation and landscape during the Little Ice Age (LIA) climatic transition that lasted from c. 15th to the 19th century AD. Biological proxies (pollen, spores, and charcoal), geochemical analysis (X-ray Fluorescence (XRF)), and a robust chronology based on AMS 14C dating are used to reconstruct the v...
Conference Paper
The Balkans are considered a “European biodiversity hotspot” as the region has outstanding levels of floral and faunal endemism and provided a refugium for many species during the past Ice Ages. Moreover, there is a long history of human presence; the location of the Balkans at the crossroads of three major continents provides an excellent geograph...
Thesis
Full-text available
The dissertation titled 'Hydrogeological study of a part of Dharampur Tehsil, Valsad district, Gujrat' is part of "Landscape Development Project" carried out by Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) in affiliation with DHRUVA-BAIF under Ford Foundation, India. This study is based on the tribal hinterlands of the D...

Questions

Question (1)
Question
I am experimenting with some datasets at hand and would like to try REVEALS (Regional Estimates of VEgetation Abundance from Large Sites) model (Sugita 2007) that provides parameters for landscape openness. I extensively searched the internet to see how REVEALS could be accessed, but haven't found much except that it is run as part of the POLLSCAPE which used to be accessed at http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/ (according to Sugita 2007 Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science); but now the website has no information about any of the above. 
Can I anyone please help me in terms of identifying the source of this model and explaining the initial steps of its application? 

Network

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
The effective management of human-dominated tropical forest landscapes is crucial in the wake of global environmental change affecting biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and the livelihoods of billions. To ensure success of such ecological management, it is essential that both planning as well as implementation is informed by long-term ecological knowledge rooted in robust scientific evidence. Examples of science-based ecological management are rare largely due to paucity of high-resolution past ecological modelling studies that are capable of producing tangible analogues and policy-relevant information on a multi-decadal timescale. To bridge this gap in the light of India’s National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) and its wider relevance to other tropical countries, we will harness the palaeoecological data from the recent past to provide guidelines for current-future ecological management of human-dominated tropical landscapes. Adopting innovative statistical approaches (e.g. REVEALS modelling, rarefaction and multivariate ordination) well-founded on palaeoecological science, we will examine the resilience of Indian agroforestry landscapes in relation to past landscape burning and climatic transitions to examine the efficacy of fires in forest management and its implications for the efficient implementation of NAP. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No. 795557. Do follow our Twitter handle @mscaearnest for day-to-day updates!
Project
Based on the utilization of pollen-charcoal-geochemical-chronological and other supplementary analyses of two Serbian sediment cores, this project (doctoral dissertation) reconstructs the palaeoenvironmental history of the Central Balkan region over the past millennium. These are the first paleoecological records from Serbia, which discuss the vegetation and landscape changes during a transitional period between the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age (before 1500 CE), spanning the Little Ice Age (LIA; 1500-1850 CE) and through the post-LIA/Industrial Era. Both the role of humans and climate responsible for these changes are explored at the multi-decadal scale. A key contribution of this research includes the discussion on the nature and variability of the LIA which is not well-understood for the Balkan region. According to the Sava Basin record in this doctoral study (Kulkarni et al. under review), the LIA interval is characterized by the fluctuating extent of forest and negligible presence of temperature-moisture sensitive crops, and large-scale land erosion in the catchment. For the Western Serbian record (Kulkarni et al. Quaternary Science Reviews 2016), the early LIA (~1500-1700 CE) shows complex woodland-grassland dynamics with an overall opening of the landscape and increasing erosional signals, while the late LIA (~1700-1850 CE) reveals a completely open landscape with slightly increasing woodland and development of stable agriculture in the region. While temporal asynchroneity in woodland-grassland dynamics as well as agricultural changes between the two Serbian cores could be attributed to some local factors, continuous oscillations of both forested and non-forested fractions during the LIA are analogous. This overall pattern indicates that the Central Balkan landscape at-large was going through considerable environmental change throughout the LIA in the form of opening and closing of the tree canopies on both sides of the Sava Basin with the phases of reforestation and increased agriculture in the later part of the LIA. Steadily declining palynological richness curves for both Serbian records are in accordance these ecological changes; the decrease in the taxon diversity is expected with the increased woodland as observed for the later part of the LIA. Both Serbian records individually and collectively reveal a slightly cooler and drier imprint of the LIA (especially for the early LIA) in the Central Balkan region with discernible local variations. Although more records are needed to understand the magnitude of the LIA, the drier nature of this interval compared to the pre- and post-LIA periods in Serbia and the Central Balkans is in agreement with our current knowledge of the eastern Mediterranean proxy and modeling data and supports the possibility of an east-west climate seesaw that seems to have operated between the two Mediterranean sub-basins over the past millennium (Roberts et al., 2012). This research contributes towards our understanding of the LIA climatic variability across Europe and becomes part of an increasing body of paleoclimate literature that challenges the “wet and cool” picture of the LIA as painted by western-northern European proxy records (Bradley and Jones, 1993; Ljungqvist, 2010; Mann, 2002; Matthews and Briffa, 2005). The past millennium timeframe of this research also allowed the examination of the long-term environmental-climatic-social dynamics in the Balkans as the LIA climatic conditions coincided with the emergence-rise-decline of the Ottoman Empire and antecedent-subsequent socio-political events in the region. A collective use of time series and principal components analyses of ecological-social-climatic datasets obtained from two Serbian cores and from a review of the literature provides insights on how the landscapes responded to climatic as well as socio-political stressors of the time (Kulkarni et al. AGU Poster 2015; Kulkarni et al. under prep). Overall, adverse effects of the LIA climatic variability on the contemporary Balkan societies was observed in addition to constantly changing socio-political regimes. Climatic and archival records (Buntgen et al., 2011; Vujevic, 1931) reported a high number of cold years throughout the LIA accompanied by a large number of droughts. These climatic variations seem to have impinged on major temperature-sensitive crops (e.g. cereals, walnut) from the Central Balkans that remained quite low throughout the interval, especially for the early LIA. Concurrently, a comparatively stable socio-political regime in the Central Balkan region could have allowed the availability of workable populations for agricultural activities. In contrast, large-scale human impact on the landscape is evident largely through extensive land clearance as evidenced from repeated fluctuations in woodland-grassland populations. The removal of trees was mainly implicated for the montane areas for increased grazing practices, which led to enhanced erosion across the Central Balkan region. This interpretation of the data supports the existing regional deforestation models (Kaplan et al., 2009; Pongratz et al., 2008). It seems plausible that through extensive land clearance, the pastoral Balkan communities could have contributed to dryness of the landscape thereby encouraging loss of fertile soils and further affecting the agriculture of this region. This climatic-ecological-human interactions loop in the early LIA could have given rise to more droughts and famines that are recorded for the later part of the LIA (1700-1850 CE) when the overall cultivation was hindered by the irregular summer precipitation and overall variability of the LIA climate (Luterbacher et al., 2004; Xoplaki et al., 2001; Zerefos et al., 2011). A diverse blend of socio-ecological-climatic stressors and their impact on the predominantly agro-pastoral Balkan subsistence during the past millennium provide a unique opportunity for examining human-climate-ecosystem interactions. An assessment of such human-climate-ecosystem interactions of the past can provide insights for present and future global challenges. At present, Southeastern Europe as elsewhere around the world is facing impending environmental and social changes. According to IPCC (2014), the Balkan countries are among the most affected regions in terms of a changing water cycle due to extreme climatic events such as increased flooding and droughts. The already hot and semi-arid climate of southern Europe is expected to become warmer and drier, and this will threaten its waterways, agricultural production and timber harvests (e.g., EEA, 2004). In the light of such recent studies, it is evident that parts of the Balkans will undoubtedly be affected locally and socially as elsewhere. In particular, Serbia’s likely entry into the European Union may put a larger stress on Serbian societies, in terms of posing challenges to its economic sectors. The sustainability of agriculture and its resilience in the face of changing environmental and social conditions is a timely question and could have relevance to political debates both within and outside the country. Although the picture is yet far from complete and more paleoecological work is needed to elucidate the interplays and feedbacks of climate variability in the context of human landscapes and activities from the Balkan region, two independent proxy records from Serbia that are produced in this doctoral research help to record and explain the nature of responses and interactions of past societies on how they coped with drastic climatic events.