The three themes climate, environment, and humans are the cornerstones that define PAGES research. To read about implementation look at our Science page.


Climate theme: Climate System Dynamics

Activities associated with the climate theme address quantitative climate dynamics from a paleo-perspective. The aims of this theme are to obtain:

Improved records of climate forcing,

A better understanding of how Earth system feedbacks modulate climate variability,

A clearer idea of how current climate models represent Earth system dynamics,

Tighter constraints on climate sensitivity across spatial and temporal scales, regional-scale climate dynamics,

Identification of non-linearities and potential thresholds in the climate system, and

Assessment of the predictability of climate modes over long time intervals.

Data and findings generated under this theme inform climate projection efforts, and in combination with modern and historical observational evidence, are suitable for developing climate services.


Environment theme: Biogeosphere and Ecosystem Dynamics

This theme addresses components of the biosphere that interact with each other and climate and may introduce feedbacks into the Earth system. This includes biogeochemical cycling, ecosystem dynamics, and ecosystem services.

Research carried out under this theme is intended to inform environmental management efforts including landscape conservation, ecosystem management, fire control, water management, fisheries, coastal planning, and potential geoengineering solutions - research topics central to the work of Future Earth.


Humans theme: Human–Earth System Interaction

Activities under this theme address long-term environmental changes where humans are a major agent, (e.g. land use, pollution, over-fertilization, soil erosion, the damming of rivers, landscape fragmentation), and where environmental changes have a demonstrable effect on the functioning and well-being of both ecosystem services and societies.

Long-term paleoecological reconstructions provide information on the transition of systems from natural variability in the absence of major anthropogenic perturbation to a system modified by humanity, and can be essential for dynamic definitions of sustainability and meaningful risk assessments.

This theme informs adaptation strategies and specific solutions for policy makers and resource managers, e.g. by providing insight into the dynamic recovery times of perturbed systems, or by increasing understanding of multiple equilibria separated by “tipping points” in which systems don't recover their pre-perturbed state or only do so under active management.

Photo credits:
Climate theme: Image courtesy of Idea go at
Environment theme: Image courtesy of dan at
Humans theme: Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at