• Using the Planet


    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.
  • Lessons from a simulated civilisation


    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?

Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems

GCTE was launched in 1992 as a Core Project of IGBP to address the question: How will global change affect terrestrial ecosystems and what will be the feedbacks to the physical climate system?

GCTE Objectives

  • To predict the effects of changes on climate, atmospheric composition, and land use on terrestrial ecosystems, including agriculture, forestry and soils, as well as ecological complexity.
  • To determine how these effects lead to feedbacks to the atmosphere and the physical climate system.

GCTE focused on the following issues: (i) the terrestrial carbon cycle with an emphasis on underlying drivers and processes of contemporary and future carbon quantities (fluxes and pools); (ii) vegetation dynamics and the processes that control them at the local and global scales, with an emphasis on landscape processes and patterns that dominate vegetation dynamics; (iii) impacts of global change on food production systems including the major species that provide the bulk of food to humanity (e.g., wheat, rice) with the associated pests and diseases and biogeochemical consequences; (iv) the links between ecosystem functioning and biodiversity, and associated ecosystem stability, resilience, and buffering capacity to natural and human perturbations.

GCTE was terminated in 2003 but its science and scientific community are contributing to the current Global Land Project (GLP), a core project under IGBP-II.

The GCTE International Project Office was kindly hosted by CSIRO, Australia throughout its activity period with generous financial support from the Australian Department for Industry, Science and Resources.

GCTE Legacy

Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems. Walker, B.H. and Steffen, W.L. (eds). IGBP Book Series No. 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1996, 637 pp.

The Terrestrial Biosphere and Global Change: Implications for Natural and Managed Ecosystems. Synthesis Volume. Walker, B.H., Steffen, W.L., Canadell, J. and Ingram, J.S.I. (eds). IGBP Book Series No. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1999, 450 pp.

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