Dr. Heli Huhtamaa c/o
Heidelberg Center for the Environment
Im Neuenheimer Feld 229
69120 Heidelberg

Marstallstr. 6
Room: 412

JRG Facing Famine

Dr. Heli Huhtamaa


Heli Huhtamaa
  • from 2018 SNF Early Postdoc. Mobility Research Fellow at the Heidelberg Centre for the Environment, University of Heidelberg, with the research group “Facing Famine”
  • 2017-2018 Postdoc Researcher at the Institute for History and Art History, University of Utrecht within the research project “Coordinating for Life”
  • 2017 Ph.D. of Science in Climate Sciences (University of Bern) and Doctor of Philosophy in History (University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu), with thesis (double doctorate) entitled “Exploring the Climate-Society Nexus with Tree-Ring Evidence: Climate, Crop Yields, and Hunger in Medieval and Early Modern North-East Europe”
  • 2012 Master of Science (MSc) in Geography, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
  • 2011 Master of Arts (MA) in History, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland

Research Interests

  • Climate history / historical climatology
  • Historical Geography
  • Interdisciplinarity between historical and climate sciences
  • Human consequences of the Little Ice Age Pre-industrial Northern Baltic Sea region

Current Research Project

  • Climate extremes and population dynamics in the northern Baltic Sea region prior to the industrialization (1636–1935)

Project Description
Climate extremes and population dynamics in the northern Baltic Sea region prior to the industrialization (1636–1935)
Funding period: 2018–2019
PI: Heli Huhtamaa

The project studies if, and to what degree, seasonal climate variability and extreme events influenced demographic dynamics in the pre-industrial (1636–1935) northern Baltic Sea region. Moreover, different socio-environmental components influencing exposure, vulnerability and resilience, which, in turn, likely influenced the population response to climate, are explored.
The northern Baltic Sea region, and especially southern and western Finland, is selected as the study area due to the extraordinary availability of the direct and indirect demographic and climate data. From this region, high-resolution time-series of climate and population can be compiled from “natural” and man-made archives to span over centuries. In addition, as Finland is located at the northern margin of agriculture, the example of pre-industrial Finland may provide an analogue to today’s subsistence farmers living in other agroclimatologically marginal areas, like arid regions. Such a perspective is important, as people living in these areas are expected to be the most adversely affected by extreme events in the future. Moreover, the studied time period overlaps with the culmination and termination phases of the “Little Ice Age” (LIA), which is the last distinctive climatic regime before the contemporary anthropogenic climate change. Therefore, the period of the LIA can improve our understanding on the human consequences of abrupt climatic changes.
The results will provide insight into the long-term climate-population nexus that have barely been addressed in previous research. Moreover, as it is not yet fully understood how the changes in exposure and vulnerability have altered the population response to climate over a longer period of time, the results can improve our understanding on the temporal nature of exposure and vulnerability. Such understanding has arguably never been more important than at present in the context of anthropogenic climate change and its potential future population responses.



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Letzte Änderung: 13.06.2019
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