Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Features | During its three decades of existence, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) built research networks, facilitated synthesis and enhanced capacity around the world. Its trajectory may offer some pointers for Future Earth as it charts its own course.
Features | Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
Features | The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Features | Although IGBP has primarily contributed to knowledge creation and synthesis, it also has a robust track record of interacting with policy processes. Ninad Bondre and Sybil Seitzinger take stock of the programme’s key contributions and how they have evolved during its three-decade history.
Features | Pauline Dube , one of IGBP’s vice-chairs, serves as a link between the African and global research communities studying climate and environmental change. Her career has been shaped strongly by her work with IGBP; in some ways her story is the story of IGBP itself.
Features | The development of Earth-system science has been inseparable in many ways from IGBP’s scientific and institutional evolution. We asked IGBP’s past and present leaders to reflect on the programme’s contributions to this discipline and the way ahead.
Features | The 2010-2011 La Niña weather event brought lush vegetation to vast semi-arid regions in the Southern Hemisphere and altered the delicate balance of the global carbon sinks. Owen Gaffney explores how La Niña might change in the future and what that might imply.
Features | In South Asia, crop-residue burning is a regionally significant source of black carbon or soot – a pollutant that affects human health and climate. Aisling Irwin reports on recent work in the region that explains why farmers choose to burn their fields and which incentives might encourage them not to.
Features | Understanding the interface between the land and the atmosphere has been an important component of IGBP’s research. Here we highlight three recent contributions that resulted from research sponsored by the Integrated Land Ecosystem–Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS).
Features | Every year, more and more people are flocking to live near the sea’s edge, often congregating in massive cities. Sophie Blackburn and Mark Pelling explore what happens when urban and coastal zones collide.
Features | Many of the world’s deltas are sinking much faster than sea level is rising globally. No two deltas are alike: the causes and consequences of sinking thus vary widely, James Syvitski tells Sebastian Moffett .
Features | Research increasingly crosses disciplinary boundaries and draws in outside stakeholders. Karl-Heinz Erb , Veronika Gaube and Marina Fischer-Kowalski report from two decades of experience in inter- and transdisciplinary research at the Institute of Social Ecology in Vienna, Austria. They advise on how to succeed in three not-so-easy steps.
Features | Even before the advent of agriculture, Homo sapiens kicked off an entirely new process of planetary change. Earth would never be the same. Instead of mere centuries, Erle C Ellis advances a broader view of the Anthropocene, over many millennia, and what that means for land stewardship.
Features | The rise and fall of the ancient Maya has intrigued historians and archaeologists for decades. Now, Earth-system scientists are taking a keen interest. Scott Heckbert asks: what role might environmental conditions and trade play in the growth and eventual collapse of a civilisation?
Features | The ocean was once thought to be a bottomless resource, to be divided and used by nations and their people. Now we know better. Ruben Zondervan , Leopoldo CavaleriGerhardinger , Isabel Torres de Noronha , Mark Joseph Spalding and Oran R Young explore how to govern and protect our planet’s marine environment.
Features | New landmark research shows how climate has changed over the last two millennia by continental region and compared to the global average. Darrell Kaufman , Nicholas McKay , Thorsten Kiefer and Lucien von Gunten of the PAGES 2k Consortium explain the differences and commonalities, through reconstructions of temperature histories from around the world.
Features | Extreme heat waves cost lives and money. We’re destined to see more in the future, so better predictions of where they’re going to strike next are important. Brigitte Mueller and Sonia I Seneviratne highlight a strong link between soil moisture and heat waves that could pave the way for more accurate forecasts.
Features | Geologists, biologists and other scientists are no strangers to the interlinked nature of Earth’s complex adaptive systems. Now, Earth-system researchers need to consider adding social systems to their complex webs of research. Sander van der Leeuw examines how one IGBP programme is working to do so.
Features | Several communities that study the Earth’s land do not yet speak the same language. A new paradigm in Earth-system modelling will emerge when these communities overcome language barriers, says Eleanor Blyth .
Features | Large urban agglomerations inevitably lead to air pollution. But despite the significant impacts on human health and climate, we lack systematic measurements of air pollution in many cities. Megan L Melamed, Tong Zhu and Liisa Jalkanen discuss a new global assessment that illuminates the knowns and unknowns.
Features | Rising sea levels will eventually threaten many coastal cities. But a dominant focus on the long-term endgame should not unduly restrict our options to deal with the more immediate consequences of climate change, says Richard Little .
Features | Studies of large-scale land acquisitions tend to focus on the global or local scales, leading to insights that are either too general or too specific. Recent work on an intermediate scale – the nation-state of Laos – fills a crucial gap. Andreas Heinimann and Peter Messerli discuss the key findings and highlight the impacts on smallholders.
Features | A potent greenhouse gas, an energy source, a culinary delicacy for some microbes – methane is all of these and more. But is it also the harbinger of impending catastrophe? There’s no smoking gun, finds Ninad Bondre .
Features | The Arctic is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the world, with significant consequences for northern Eurasia. Cat Downy discusses how the European Space Agency is working with researchers to combine remotely sensed, field and laboratory data in this hard-to-access region.
Features | The Planet Under Pressure conference underscored a rapidly changing landscape of Earth-system science. Mike Raupach says that the path ahead should combine the need for wider engagement with a continuing commitment to reason.
Features | Media reports in Europe and North America were downbeat about the outcomes of Rio+20. But a more sober analysis points to some significant successes, not least for IGBP, reports Owen Gaffney .
Features | A new way of analysing complex global challenges – DebateGraph – has caught the attention of the White House, the UK Prime Minister’s Office and CNN. Here, DebateGraph co-creater David Price discusses how “collaborative argument visualisation” can help to support a planet under pressure.
Features | The relentless increase in summer sea-ice melt is likely to amplify Arctic warming. But could the same conditions also spur the activity of marine microbiota, increase cloudiness and counteract the melting? Paty Matrai and Caroline Leck explore.
Features | Human infrastructure both contributes to and is affected by global change. The engineering and climate research communities must work together to respond and adapt to such changes, say Faisal Hossain and Julia Pongratz.
Features | A sequence of devastating earthquakes and a large number of weather-related catastrophes made 2011 the most expensive year ever for natural catastrophe losses for insurance companies. Owen Gaffney spoke to the world’s largest reinsurance company Munich Re’s Head of Geo Risks Research, Peter Höppe.
Features | New cities are sprouting up virtually every day as the world urbanises rapidly. But the projections for the coming decades vary widely. Michail Fragkias and Karen C Seto analyse the facts and discuss the implications.
Features | As water demand rises rapidly, some regions are withdrawing groundwater faster than it can recharge. Now scientists can couple new space-based observations with models and data to quantify global and regional groundwater changes, reports Ninad Bondre.
Features | Scientists who published the famous “hockey stick” graph experienced sustained attacks soon after the figure was incorporated in the 2001 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Now one of those scientists, Ray Bradley, has written a very personal account of his experience. He spoke to Owen Gaffney about his new book.
Features | Analysis of the most complete tree-ring database for Central Europe provides a record of climate change over the past 2500 years. It also reveals synchronies with important historical events, reports Naomi Lubick.
Features | Most studies that reconstruct the climatic conditions of the past centuries to millennia tend to focus on the northern hemisphere. But now an intriguing multicentennial record of temperature and precipitation in southern South America is available. Raphael Neukom and Jürg Luterbacher elaborate on its significance.
Features | The recognition of an error in the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put the spotlight on glaciers. Not all glaciers are about to disappear but their recession is real and so are the impacts the loss of this “stored water” will have on ecosystems and societies, Ray Bradley asserts.
Features | Radical technological responses to counteract global warming are receiving increased attention as a possible policy option. But is geoengineering a potential safety net, a distraction or a dead end? Phil Williamson explores.
Features | Phosphorus, crucial to agriculture and life, is at present derived from non-renewable sources. Demand will eventually outstrip supply, but when this will happen is a matter of debate. Ninad Bondre takes stock.
Features | Soil moisture patterns seem to be the trigger for new storms in the dusty Sahel. Chris Taylor recounts his experience of one such storm and discusses how the Sahel soil influences weather patterns.
Features | Ocean acidification has transitioned from a little-known phenomenon to a buzzword within a span of five years. The concomitant explosion of research on this topic has provided many general insights into its effects. But as Sarah Cooley reminds us, many of the specifics regarding its consequences for humans and ecosystems await elaboration.
Features | Leaked emails hacked from the servers of the University of East Anglia have re-energised climate sceptics. Because the roots of such scepticism lie in a polarised political climate, it needs to be countered by a change in discourse and not just a reiteration of facts, argues Ninad Bondre.
Features | Well-managed plantations in Africa may, in principle, help mitigate the effects of a changing climate, both by boosting economies and providing alternative fuels. But as Cheikh Mbow points out, both the science and the politics underlying such an endeavour deserve closer scrutiny.
Features | How will our complex societies and economies respond to climate change? So far, future climate scenarios have not adequately included emissions-reductions policies and adaptation. All that is about to change. Owen Gaffney reports.
Features | Ecosystems provide society with valuable services such as food, clean water, fresh air and energy. They protect us from floods, droughts and disease, and give us healthy soils and cycle nutrients. The idea of ecosystem services is being adopted in some areas. But, says Naomi Lubick, is there an effective way of valuing these services?
Features | Climate services is an idea that has been floating around for some years. Has its time arrived? At the World Climate Conference, aid agencies, water resource managers and farmers certainly hoped so.
Features | Maintaining the planet’s stable climate would seem like a good idea. Scientists have now identified what they think are the nine Earth systems that do just that. But their analysis suggests we have already crossed three of the boundaries that keep us a safe distance from dangerous thresholds.
Features | Can the complexity of the Earth’s climate be distilled down to a single number like an economic index? The IGBP climate-change index does just that and it seems effective at exposing underlying trends.
Features | Accurate global knowledge of where carbon is coming from and where it is going is essential to put in place international emissions reductions strategies. Corinne Le Quéré explains how the Global Carbon Project is contributing.
Features | Emitting a total of no more than one trillion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere will give humanity a 50 percent chance of keeping global warming to 2˚C above preindustrial temperatures. If this is the goal, we have just passed peak CO2, says Michael Raupach.
This final issue of the magazine takes stock of IGBP’s scientific and institutional accomplishments as well as its contributions to policy and capacity building. It features interviews of several past...
This issue features a special section on carbon. You can read about peak greenhouse-gas emissions in China, the mitigation of black carbon emissions and the effect of the 2010-2011 La Niña event on gl...