Disentangling climatic and human induced changes in the recent past Essay

Disentangling climatic and human induced changes in the recent past Essay

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This essay tackles one of the crucial challenges facings palaeo-scientists today, i.e. to what extent does human or natural forcings have in environmental change in the Holocene, and how accurately can they be detected and attributed? According to Oldfield and Dearing (2003), climatic and human induced changes are difficult to disentangle from one another, and this essay aims to explore why. At this point, it is important to define and outline the parameters of the essay. A Holocene perspective is adopted in this essay, which will include a discussion on the Anthropocene. This essay also aims to explore different aspects of the environment i.e. terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic realms, although there bias in literature favouring the terrestrial realm, and the dominant environmental problem being that of climate change. The following points will be discussed: recent environmental change, difficulty in detection and attribution, examples to illustrate the complex nature between climate-man- environment, and the role of research in addressing this problem.
The product of Holocene environmental change presents a difficult task to unravel as it was subject to human influence, natural influence, earth processes, and all of their complex interactions and relationships (Oldfield and Dearing, 2003). In some instances, climate impacts are clear and distinct from human impacts, and in others, it cannot be assumed that either are the only factor at work. It must be noted that disentangling human from climate impacts does not just present a challenge during the Industrial Revolution and onwards; although from that point onwards it has become increasingly more complex. Common consensus among scientists exist that anthropogenic forcing cont...


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...hundred and fifty years, these disturbances have not changed ecosystem dynamics significantly, but have also altered the rates of change (Anderson et al., 2006). In a study conducted by Jones et al. (2013) for the detection of climate signals in a human disturbed catchment - the Petit Lac d’Annecy in France, results from cross correlation and spectral analyses indicated that human activities were dominant in influence the shaping of the catchment during the late Holocene. Less certain however, is the effect of palaeoclimate on the shaping and evolution of the Petit Lac d’Annecy. This can be due to the absence of historical records of climate in the ears of the catchment. Attempts were made to examine the extent to which palaeoclimate had, but this action was limited due to the difficulties in isolating within the proxy record, the climatic from the human imprint.

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