• 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 .

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 This website is no longer updated.

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