Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Centuries of Land-use Practices Profoundly Impact Earth System

17.07.2006
In a paper published in the July 2006 issue of Global Change Biology, University of New Hampshire scientists George Hurtt, Steve Frolking, and coauthors show that land-use activities over the last 300 years have substantially altered the land surface in ways that are likely to have had profound effects on the Earth system. Land-use changes have impacted some 42-68 percent of the global land surface, according to the study, which used historical records, satellite data, and computer modeling to reconstruct 216 different global land-use reconstructions to derive the most comprehensive picture to-date.

“This is the first global land-use history description that’s designed specifically to allow global carbon and climate models to assess the impacts of land-use history both on the past and current sources and sinks of carbon and climate,” says Hurtt, assistant professor of natural resources at the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) and Department of Natural Resources.

According to Hurtt, this global land-use data will allow the next generation of coupled carbon-climate models, known as Earth-system models, to include the most advanced representations of land-use practices yet, including the first mapped estimates of the effects of shifting agriculture, logging, and secondary recovering lands.

“Land-use activities are known to have added large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, altered surface reflectivity, and led to habitat alteration and destruction,” says Hurtt. “A major challenge for scientists now is to understand the combined effects of these activities on the dynamics of the carbon-climate system. This study provides a key basis for these assessments.”

Land-use history is critical to understanding the dynamics of the carbon-climate system, not just for technical reasons but also for policy reasons. One of the big policy debates is to what extent carbon sinks in ecosystems should be able to offset carbon emissions. “It is important to know if a carbon sink in an ecosystem today is simply the result of recovery from having been cut down in the past, or a net new storage for carbon over the long term,” says Hurtt.

Moreover, he notes, without this historical analysis of land-use activities, even the most sophisticated models would be inaccurate. “Even if you didn’t care about the past and wanted to focus on future global environmental changes, you would still have to first ‘initialize’ your model to the current state of the planet. Because the current state has been altered by a history of land-use activities over most of the planet, knowledge of historical activities increases the knowledge of the current conditions,” Hurtt says of the work.

Late last year, Hurtt presented the land-use research, now published in Global Change Biology, in a “platform” presentation at the Seventh International Carbon Dioxide Conference held in Boulder, Colorado. Since that time, the presentation has been downloaded more than 1,000 times by individuals interested in the data.

UNH co-authors of the study include Berrien Moore and Matthew Fearon. The study was also co-authored by Steve Pacala, Elena Shevliakova, and Sergey Malysev of Princeton University, and Richard Houghton of the Woods Hole Research Center.

George Hurtt can be reached at (603) 862-4185.

George Hurtt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unh.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections

21.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Smart Computers

21.08.2017 | Information Technology

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>