Mapping past human land use

Mapping past human land use

new paper resulting from an extensive process of consultation with researchers worldwide over many years has been published by PAGES' LandCover6k working group.

"Mapping past human land use using archaeological data: A new classification for global land use synthesis and data harmonization" by Kathleen Morrison et al. presents a simple, hierarchical classification of land-use systems designed to be used with archaeological and historical data at a global scale and a schema of codes that identify land-use practices common to a range of systems, both implemented in a geospatial database.

In the 12,000 years preceding the Industrial Revolution, human activities led to significant changes in land cover, plant and animal distributions, surface hydrology, and biochemical cycles.

Earth system models suggest that this anthropogenic land-cover change influenced regional and global climate. However, the representation of past land use in Earth system models is currently oversimplified. As a result, there are large uncertainties in the current understanding of the past and current state of the Earth system.

In order to improve representation of the variety and scale of impacts that past land use had on the earth system, this global effort is underway to aggregate and synthesize archaeological and historical evidence of land-use systems, to deliver consistent, empirically robust data for the improvement of land-use models, while simultaneously allowing for a comparative, detailed mapping of land use relevant to the needs of historical scholars.

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