The research seems to be the newly discovered proof in Belize that reveals the Mayans responded to increases in their population and environmental pressures by constructing canals and wetlands. Additionally, they had regular “burn events” while farming their lands, which may have triggered an increase in carbon dioxide and methane within the atmosphere.
“We now are starting to know the complete human imprint of the Anthropocene in tropical forests,” stated the study’s lead author, Tim Beach, in a statement. “These large and complicated wetland networks might have changed climate long before industrialization, and these could be the response to the long-standing question of how an excellent rainforest civilization fed itself.”
The Birds of Paradise wetland was “five times larger than previously found,” based on the statement. Researchers additionally discovered another, even larger, wetland field complex in Belize.
“These perennial wetlands were beautiful throughout the severe Maya droughts; however, the Maya additionally needed to be careful with water quality to maintain productivity and human health,” the study’s co-author, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, added.
The newly found proof, based on aerial scans, is assumed to have occurred between 1,800 and 1,000 years ago. Before recorded history, the largest increase in methane around the globe is believed to have occurred between 2,000 and 1,000 years ago, coinciding with the rise within the Maya wetlands, as well as those seen in South America and China.
“Even these small changes might have warmed the planet, which provides a sobering perspective for the order of magnitude greater changes over the last century that are accelerating into the future,” Beach added.
The research has been revealed in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.