Climate, weather, and water in history

Ruth A. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This essay integrates the largely separate trajectories of climate and water histories, their distinct historiographies, and their different methods and expertise. Informed by the human-nature insights of environmental history and historical geography, this paper identifies four intersections between histories of climate and water: first, conceptualizations of the climate and hydrological systems; second, adaptations to climate and hydrological variability and change; third, weather control; and finally, water over time. These particular intersections shed light on shared concerns for human relations to water and climate across different spatial and temporal scales; the development and function of networks of environmental knowledge; the formation and impact of environmental imaginaries; and the emergence of particular cultures of risk and resilience. The English-language histories of climate and water to which I refer pertain largely to the study of the 19th and 20th centuries in relation to the spread of European and North American empires. Histories of water, I argue, offer more personal and localized insights into histories of climate and climate change. This article is categorized under: Climate, History, Society, Culture > World Historical Perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere561
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalWIREs Climate Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • climate change
  • environmental history
  • water history

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