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Fredrik Charpentier LjungqvistProfessor of History, especially Historical Geography

About me

I am Professor of History, especially Historical Geography, at Stockholm University. In addition, I am Associate Professor of Physical Geography at the same university as well as Pro Futura Scientia Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Uppsala.

My current research interests range from the link between past climate variability and historical harvest yields, the effect of plague outbreaks on the history of European building activity, past climate variability and extremes to socio-political aspects of historical food (in)security. I am an experienced university teacher and I am also actively engaged in popular science and public outreach activities. I frequently gives popular science lectures and makes contributions to media, and I am the author of four popular science books.

In 2022 I was by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities awarded the Rettig Prize for “interdisciplinary works concerning climate and diseases in a long-term perspective that demonstrate the importance of humanistic and historical perspectives on crucial contemporary issues”. In 2016 I was awarded the Clio Prize for my “ability to give well founded and pedagogic overviews of the big courses of events of the past” and for “delivering new scientific knowledge to a wide audience”.

I spent time between 2017 and 2019 as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge and I have close research collaborations across Europe and in China.


Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist has been teaching at the undergraduate and master programmes of the Department of History, Stockholm University, since 2007. Ljungqvist have been supervisor of more than 25 student writing bachelor thesis in history, and has been invited as a guest lecture, for courses on both advanced and doctoral level, both at other universities in Sweden and abroad in palaeoclimatology. He has also held numerous popular science lectures, in both history and palaeoclimatology, at museums, public libraries, local history societies and for non-profit associations. Ljungqvist is at present main supervisor for one PhD student and co-supervisor for two PhD students: one in history, one in agrarian history, and one in earth sciences.


Bibliometric data

(June 2, 2023, ISI Web of Knowledge [Google Scholar])

ISI Web of Science [Google Scholar])

Publications: 93 [110]

Total citations: 4120 [6235]

Average citations: 44.30 [56.68]

H-index: 29 [34]

Highly Cited in Field (ISI): 6

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • The significance of climate variability on early modern European grain prices

    2022. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist (et al.). Cliometrica 16, 29-77


    Grain was the most important food source in early modern Europe (c. 1500-1800), and its price influenced the entire economy. The extent to which climate variability determined grain price variations remains contested, and claims of solar cycle influences on prices are disputed. We thoroughly reassess these questions, within a framework of comprehensive statistical analysis, by employing an unprecedentedly large grain price data set together with state-of-the-art palaeoclimate reconstructions and long meteorological series. A highly significant negative grain price-temperature relationship (i.e. colder = high prices and vice versa) is found across Europe. This association increases at larger spatial and temporal scales and reaches a correlation of -0.41 considering the European grain price average and previous year June-August temperatures at annual resolution, and of -0.63 at decadal timescales. This strong relationship is of episodic rather than periodic (cyclic) nature. Only weak and spatially inconsistent signals of hydroclimate (precipitation and drought), and no meaningful association with solar variations, are detected in the grain prices. The significant and persistent temperature effects on grain prices imply that this now rapidly changing climate element has been a more important factor in European economic history, even in southern Europe, than commonly acknowledged.

    Read more about The significance of climate variability on early modern European grain prices
  • Climate and society in European history

    2021. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Andrea Seim, Heli Huhtamaa. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews 12 (2)


    This article evaluates 165 studies from various disciplines, published between 2000 and 2019, which in different ways link past climate variability and change to human history in medieval and early modern Europe (here, c. 700-1815 CE). Within this review, we focus on the identification and interpretation of causal links between changes in climate and in human societies. A revised climate-society impact order model of historical climate-society interactions is presented and applied to structure the findings of the past 20 years' scholarship. Despite considerable progress in research about past climate-society relations, partly expedited by new palaeoclimate data, we identify limitations to knowledge, including geographical biases, a disproportional attention to extremely cold periods, and a focus on crises. Furthermore, recent scholarship shows that the limitations with particular disciplinary approaches can be successfully overcome through interdisciplinary collaborations. We conclude the article by proposing recommendations for future directions of research in the climatic change-human history nexus.

    Read more about Climate and society in European history
  • Climate in Nordic historical research - a research review and future perspectives

    2021. Heli Huhtamaa, Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist. Scandinavian Journal of History


    This article assesses the development and current state of climate history research conducted in the five Nordic countries and Estonia. The possible societal impacts of past climatic changes already interested a handful of Nordic historians in the early twentieth century, but the lack of data on past climate fluctuations constrained scholarship in this field until recently. The data availability has increased fundamentally over the past decades due to the advances of palaeoclimatology. However, these advances have created new challenges, related to the ability to utilize data from the natural sciences in historical research as well as acquiring a basic knowledge on climatology. In many European countries, climate history has established itself as a strong academic subfield and consequently has created approaches as to how to overcome some main pitfalls, like climate determinism, related to the early works in the field. These epistemological advances are just beginning to gain a foothold in Nordic historical research. Thus, the article concludes with ten recommendations to improve future research in Nordic climate history.

    Read more about Climate in Nordic historical research - a research review and future perspectives
  • The spatiotemporal distribution of historical malaria cases in Sweden

    2021. Tzu Tung Chen (et al.). Malaria Journal 20 (1)


    Background: Understanding of the impacts of climatic variability on human health remains poor despite a possibly increasing burden of vector-borne diseases under global warming. Numerous socioeconomic variables make such studies challenging during the modern period while studies of climate-disease relationships in historical times are constrained by a lack of long datasets. Previous studies have identified the occurrence of malaria vectors, and their dependence on climate variables, during historical times in northern Europe. Yet, malaria in Sweden in relation to climate variables is understudied and relationships have never been rigorously statistically established. This study seeks to examine the relationship between malaria and climate fluctuations, and to characterise the spatio-temporal variations at parish level during severe malaria years in Sweden 1749-1859.

    Methods: Symptom-based annual malaria case/death data were obtained from nationwide parish records and military hospital records in Stockholm. Pearson (r(p)) and Spearman's rank (r(s)) correlation analyses were conducted to evaluate inter-annual relationship between malaria data and long meteorological series. The climate response to larger malaria events was further explored by Superposed Epoch Analysis, and through Geographic Information Systems analysis to map spatial variations of malaria deaths.

    Results: The number of malaria deaths showed the most significant positive relationship with warm-season temperature of the preceding year. The strongest correlation was found between malaria deaths and the mean temperature of the preceding June-August (r(s) = 0.57, p < 0.01) during the 1756-1820 period. Only non-linear patterns can be found in response to precipitation variations. Most malaria hot-spots, during severe malaria years, concentrated in areas around big inland lakes and southern-most Sweden.

    Conclusions: Unusually warm and/or dry summers appear to have contributed to malaria epidemics due to both indoor winter transmission and the evidenced long incubation and relapse time of P. vivax, but the results also highlight the difficulties in modelling climate-malaria associations. The inter-annual spatial variation of malaria hot-spots further shows that malaria outbreaks were more pronounced in the southern-most region of Sweden in the first half of the nineteenth century compared to the second half of the eighteenth century.

    Read more about The spatiotemporal distribution of historical malaria cases in Sweden
  • Linking European building activity with plague history

    2018. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist (et al.). Journal of Archaeological Science 98, 81-92


    Variations in building activity reflect demographic, economic and social change during history. Tens of thousands of wooden constructions in Europe have been dendrochronologically dated in recent decades. We use the annually precise evidence from a unique dataset of 49 640 tree felling dates of historical constructions to reconstruct temporal changes in building activity between 1250 and 1699 CE across a large part of western and central Europe largely corresponding to the former Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Comparison with annual records of 9772 plague outbreaks shows that construction activity was significantly negatively correlated to the number of plague outbreaks, with the greatest decrease in construction following the larger outbreaks by three to four years after the start of the epidemics. Preceding the Black Death (1346-1353 CE) by five decades and the Great Famine (1315-1322 CE) by two decades, a significant decline in construction activity at c. 1300 CE is indicative of a societal crisis, associated with population stagnation or decline. Another dramatic decline in building activity coincides with the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648 CE) and confirms the devastating nature of this conflict. While construction activity was significantly lower during periods of high grain prices, no statistically robust relationship between the number of felling dates and past temperature or hydroclimate variations is found. This study demonstrates the value of dendrochronological felling dates as an indicator for times of crisis and prosperity during periods when documentary evidence is limited.

    Read more about Linking European building activity with plague history
  • Klimatet och människan under 12 000 år

    2017. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist.


    I boken presenteras för första gången på svenska resultaten från den senaste klimathistoriska forskningen för en bred publik. I en välblandad mix av historia och klimatvetenskap får läsaren följa med på en medryckande resa genom världshistorien då kraftiga och plötsliga klimatförändringar emellanåt dramatiskt förändrat livsvillkoren för miljoner människor.

    För 6 000 år sedan var till exempel Sahara en frodig savann i stället för världens största öken, samtidigt som klimatet var varmt nog i Sverige för sköldpaddor och vilda vindruvor.  Senare under historien har stora variationer i monsunregnen i Asien gett upphov till antingen välstånd eller hungersnöd för miljontals människor.

    För tusen år sedan kollapsade indianska civilisationer av torka, samtidigt som ett varmare klimat tillät nordbor att kolonisera södra Grönland. Den så kallade lilla istiden, som kulminerade på 1600-talet, orsakade försörjningskriser i Europa och Kina och på många andra håll i världen.

    Författaren ger oss åtskilliga spännande och lärorika exempel på hur klimatförändringar under historien påverkat utvecklingen i olika delar av världen och hur människor hanterat eller inte hanterat konsekvenserna av klimatförändringar. Det är insikter som är mycket relevanta i vår tid.

    Read more about Klimatet och människan under 12 000 år
  • Northern Hemisphere hydroclimate variability over the past twelve centuries

    2016. Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist (et al.). Nature 532 (7597), 94-98


    Accurate modelling and prediction of the local to continental-scale hydroclimate response to global warming is essential given the strong impact of hydroclimate on ecosystem functioning, crop yields, water resources, and economic security. However, uncertainty in hydroclimate projections remains large, in part due to the short length of instrumental measurements available with which to assess climate models. Here we present a spatial reconstruction of hydroclimate variability over the past twelve centuries across the Northern Hemisphere derived from a network of 196 at least millennium-long proxy records. We use this reconstruction to place recent hydrological changes and future precipitation scenarios in a long-term context of spatially resolved and temporally persistent hydroclimate patterns. We find a larger percentage of land area with relatively wetter conditions in the ninth to eleventh and the twentieth centuries, whereas drier conditions are more widespread between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries. Our reconstruction reveals that prominent seesaw patterns of alternating moisture regimes observed in instrumental data across the Mediterranean, western USA, and China have operated consistently over the past twelve centuries. Using an updated compilation of 128 temperature proxy records, we assess the relationship between the reconstructed centennial-scale Northern Hemisphere hydroclimate and temperature variability. Even though dry and wet conditions occurred over extensive areas under both warm and cold climate regimes, a statistically significant co-variability of hydroclimate and temperature is evident for particular regions. We compare the reconstructed hydroclimate anomalies with coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model simulations and find reasonable agreement during pre-industrial times. However, the intensification of the twentieth-century-mean hydroclimate anomalies in the simulations, as compared to previous centuries, is not supported by our new multi-proxy reconstruction. This finding suggests that much work remains before we can model hydroclimate variability accurately, and highlights the importance of using palaeoclimate data to place recent and predicted hydroclimate changes in a millennium-long context.

    Read more about Northern Hemisphere hydroclimate variability over the past twelve centuries

Show all publications by Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist at Stockholm University