LEAP. Learning from the past. The impact of abrupt climate changes on society and environment in Belgium

Start - End 
2023 - 2025 (ongoing)
Department of Archaeology
Other institution(s) 
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Research group(s) 
Research Focus 
Research Region 
Additional tags 
Bronze Age
14C dating
strontium analysis
speleothem analysis
pollen analysis



During the Early and Middle-Late Holocene at least eight abrupt centennial-scale Rapid Climate Change events (RCC) have occurred, which have been globally identified by recent climate records. However, still little is known about the effects and impact of these RCC’s on past societies and their ecosystems. This interdisciplinary LEAP project aims to document these rapid climate changes for Belgium in high resolution and assess the associated environmental and societal responses in those times. This is done by a collection and integration of high-resolution palaeoclimatic (C & O isotopes, trace elements and U/Th dating on speleothems), palaeoenvironmental (pollen and loss-on-ignition analyses with 14C-dating) and palaeomobility data (O & Sr isotopes and 14C-dating on animal/human remains). These newly generated data are subsequently compared to climate records from the recent past (last 250 years) and put into perspective of current societal changes. This provides a unique source of high resolution, climate and environmental information for Belgium to predict the frequency and intensity of future threats as a consequence of climate extremes such as floods, drought, forest fires, loss of biodiversity, erosion and heavy storms, and allow for an optimal increase in societal resilience against climate change.





Mathieu Boudin

Sophie Verheyden

Christophe Snoeck

Brussels Bioarchaeology Lab, Vrije Universiteit Brussel