Lajos Rácz, born in Szeghalom, Hungary, in 1963. Ph.D. from Szeged University. Associate Professor at the History Department, Szeged University.
Magyar Fellow (1 September 2003 – 31 January 2004)
THE ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF HUNGARY SINCE THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
My main task was to prepare the conceptual framework and the introductory chapters of an English-language book about the environmental history of Hungary since the nineth century. The main theme of my environmental history research is the concept of ecological transformation. An ecological transformation is a complex, large-scale process encompassing many aspects of society. It not only affects material production, but also legal, political and social structures. I applied quantitative historical methods based on such measurable historical processes like climate changes (temperature and precipitation), agricultural production (harvest yields) and demographical time series. The manuscript of a climate history book entitled “Climate History of Hungary during the Modern Times” was completed at NIAS. According to my research results, perhaps the most important indicator of the climatic changes in Hungary was the modification of the length and time boundaries of the natural seasons. On the basis of an examination of round-the-year- temperatures and rainfall time series, we can say that the cool and wet climate, which is characteristic of the ‘little ice age’, was a defining factor in shaping the weather in the Carpathian basin from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The climate of the first half of the nineteenth century was somewhat milder with less rainfall, the cool and wet climate returned for a short time in the second half of the nineteenth century, and since then the climate has become warmer and dryer, determining the weather in Hungary since the middle of the twentieth century