Tourist season

How did humans settle the Pacific? New climate models provide insight into centuries-old migration patterns.

The prehistoric colonization of the remote Pacific was arguably the most ambitious migration in human history. Though there is archeological data available for the colonization of many of the major islands, there is still debate about where various settlers originated and the routes they may have used to reach habitable land.

A recent study published in PNAS harnesses the power of high resolution climatic and oceanographic datasets to argue that seasonal and semiannual weather changes were influential in structuring ancient Pacific voyaging. Based on this model, Samoa was the likely staging area for the colonization of east Polynesia, and the success of various colonization ventures to New Zealand and Easter Island depended heavily on the season.

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