Exploring Climate Events and Human Development The
Past 100 Years: Putting the 20th Century
The animation above is from
the joint gateway of the Historic Land Use Estimation Efforts by the National
Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM, Netherlands) and
the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE, USA).
Below is their description of the work they have been conducting.
One of the conclusions of
the recent IPCC Working Group I Third Assessment Report ' The Scientific
Basis ', was that "Emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols due
to human activities continue to alter the atmosphere in ways that are
expected to affect the climate". It clearly identified carbon emissions
from land use change as an important driver of global climate change.
Nevertheless, there have been relatively few comprehensive studies of
global, long-term historical changes in land cover due to land use.
Here, we present two recently developed historical databases of global
land use change. Based on historical statistical inventories (e.g. census
data, tax records, land surveys, historical geography estimates, etc)
and applying different spatial analysis techniques, an attempt has been
made to reconstruct land cover change due to land use for the last 300
years. The initiative for this effort has its origin at a PAGES/LUCC
meeting held in Bern in March 2000. PAGES is 'The International Geosphere-Biosphere
Programme (IGBP) Core Project charged with providing a quantitive understanding
of the Earth's past climate and environment', while 'The Land Use and
Land Cover Change (LUCC) Project is a programme element of the International
Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions
Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP)'.
Scientists from different disciplines were thus brought together to
discuss how to close the gap between the initiatives of these land use
and population research communities. It appeared that PAGES primarely
looked at periods of several hundred to thousands of years, while LUCC
merely reported on recent decadal land use changes. At the meeting in
Bern, two databases were presented: one by dr. Navin Ramankutty of SAGE,
and the other one by ir. Kees Klein Goldewijk of RIVM. Both databases
attempted to fill the timespan gap left by PAGES and LUCC. These two
efforts blend perfectly in with FOCUS 3 of PAGES called "Human
Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems (HITE, Activity 3)", which emphasizes
the historical land use changes during the past 300 years.