Today Earth systems are being impacted by human induced climate and land-use change. Exploration of the record of past change facilitates the parameterization of states, interactions and resilience within the Earth’s system on relevant timescales to societal, climatic and landscape development. Through understanding the past we can assess how far current human modified states, and projected future changes, deviate from the past ‘natural’ functioning. Through this approach fundamental questions can be addressed, such as: Are modern observed and projected rates of change truly unprecedented in Earth history? Empirical evidence of past biotic and abiotic change can be extracted from sedimentary archives that allow past vegetation and ecosystems processes to be parameterized. Consequently, insights into how terrestrial ecosystems functioned and responded to past climate change and human activity can be gained. This information can be used to guide the courses of effective management and development strategies for current and future situations.
Prof. W.D. Gosling, professor of Palaeoecology and Biogeography: The ecology of the past.
You can watch this inaugural lecture here.