Regional Integration

This working group met for the first time at the University of Southampton, UK, in 2010 to consider how social and biophysical records could be integrated to study recent human-environment relationships. The group ended in 2015.

This project resulted in a synthesis paper published in The Anthropocene Review (Dearing et al. 2015). The working group also spawned other work themes and publications, notably the use of paleorecords in studies of ecosystem services (Dearing et al. 2012), regional safe operating spaces (Dearing et al. 2014), and complex system behavior, like critical transitions (Wang et al. 2012).

This last theme has been taken up specifically by the working group Aquatic Transitions which started in 2014. A PAGES meeting on ‘Dynamics of socio-ecosystems on a changing Earth: sustainability or collapse?’, will be held in May 2016 to discuss the creation of a follow-up working group to Regional Integration.

1. Dearing JA, Acma B, Bub S, Chambers FM, Chen X, Cooper J, Crook D, Dong XH, Dotterweich M, Edwards ME, Foster TH, Gaillard MJ, Galop D, Gell P, Jones RT, Anupama K, Langdon PG, Mazier F, McLean CE, Nunes LH, Sukumar R, Suryaprakash I, Umer M, Yang XD, Wang R and Zhang K. 2015. Social-ecological systems in the Anthropocene: the need for integrating social and biophysical records at regional scales. The Anthropocene Review, 1-27. doi:10.1177/2053019615579128.
2. Dearing JA, Yang X, Dong X, Zhang E, Chen X, Langdon PG, Zhang K, Zhang W and Dawson TP. 2012. Extending the timescale and range of ecosystem services through paleoenvironmental analyses: the example of the lower Yangtze basin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, E1111-1120. doi:10.1073/pnas.1118263109
3. Dearing JA, Wang R, Zhang K, Dyke JG, Haberl H, Hossain MS, Langdon PG, Lenton TM, Raworth K, Brown S, Carstensen J, Cole MJ, Cornell SE, Dawson TP, Doncaster CP, Eigenbrod F, Flörken M, Jeffers E, Mackay AS, Nykvist B and Poppy GM. 2014. Safe and just operating spaces for regional social-ecological system. Global Environmental Change 28, 227-238. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.06.012
4. Wang R, Dearing JA, Langdon PG, Zhang E, Yang X, Dakos V and Scheffer M. 2012. Flickering gives early warning signals of a critical transition to a eutrophic lake state. Nature 492, 419–422. doi: 10.1038/nature11655

Regional Integration overview

Regional Climate Change Index (RCCI) over 26 land regions of the World calculated from 20 coupled Atmospheric-Ocean General Circulation Models and 3 IPCC emission scenarios (A1B, A2, B1). The RCCI is a comparative index that identifies the regions most responsive to climate change (Modified from Giorgi, 2006).

There is a need to understand how society and the environment have evolved over multi-decadal timescales to create modern landscapes.

This can be achieved through integrating instrument, document, paleoenvironmental and archaeology records within regions to produce ‘socio-environmental profiles’. Such profiles are especially important to the development of policies and strategies in regions where successful management of key environmental processes, ecological services and their interaction is critical, for example, within natural wildernesses, biodiversity hotspots, climate change hotspots or regions projected to be particularly vulnerable to combinations of stressors.


The group initially integrated past evidence for environmental processes and ecological services for selected regions that were projected by the IPCC and others (e.g. Giorgi 2006) to be climate change “hotspots”. It compiled and integrated records in order to:

1. Identify drivers of change,
2. Track socio-environmental trajectories,
3. Establish levels of modern resilience and vulnerability,
4. Provide the basis for the development and validation of dynamic models for scenario production.

The group aimed to promote and provide new integrations of historical information at regional scales in order to provide a stronger basis for developing strategies for sustainable management and adaptation to global environmental change.

The Regional Integration theme developed links to other PAGES Foci (in particular Focus 2), the Global Land Project (GLP) and IHOPE.