• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    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.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    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 .

Urban land teleconnections and sustainability

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2012)

Seto K C, Reenberg A, Boone C G, Fragkias M, Haase D, Langanke T, Marcotullio P, Munroe D K, Olah B and Simon D

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1117622109

Vol 109, Issue 20, pp 7687-7692


This paper introduces urban land teleconnections as a conceptual framework that explicitly links land changes to underlying urbanization dynamics. We illustrate how three key themes that are currently addressed separately in the urban sustainability and land change literatures can lead to incorrect conclusions and misleading results when they are not examined jointly: the traditional system of land classification that is based on discrete categories and reinforces the false idea of a rural–urban dichotomy; the spatial quantification of land change that is based on place-based relationships, ignoring the connections between distant places, especially between urban functions and rural land uses; and the implicit assumptions about path dependency and sequential land changes that underlie current conceptualizations of land transitions. We then examine several environmental “grand challenges” and discuss how urban land teleconnections could help research communities frame scientific inquiries. Finally, we point to existing analytical approaches that can be used to advance development and application of the concept.

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IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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