In the last few years, the topic related to a new geological epoch has been object of a progressively intense discussion: the Earth science community debates the fact that we are living in a geological epoch of extensive anthropogenic influence not only on the biotic environment but also on sedimentary processes and the earth surface. Human activities have left signatures on the Earth since many millennia, and the magnitude of this fingerprint is currently peaking, with significant changes of surface morphology and ecosystems, characterizing the Anthropocene. The recognition and the analysis of such signatures represent a real challenge necessary to enhance our understanding of the history and the landscape evolution of our Planet. This analysis is fundamental for a sustainable environmental planning in order to mitigate the consequences of anthropogenic alteration. It represents a key requirement for policy makers for managing future environmental changes and societal responses.
The purpose of this session is to stimulate the debate on the entire human history as well as about this challenging topic of the Anthropocene and consider how the Earth science community can shape future research agendas and policy frameworks. The session welcomes recent advances about environmental change caused by human presence and activities, covering a number of disciplines including geomorphology and geoarchaeology, but also stratigraphy, hydrology, ecohydrology, ecology, and biogeosciences. In detail, the session covers analyses about the scale and magnitude of landscape change (e.g. land use changes such as agricultural land use and urban growth, human-induced geomorphic features), and the human modification of Earth surface processes (e.g. soil erosion, land sliding, surface runoff); analyses about any type of environmental records (e.g. long-term series of rainfall-runoff, long-term rate of erosion and sedimentation, geologic records); geoarchaeological approaches for understanding past landscape evolution, discussion about human history and prehistory since the Pleistocene; analyses about soil and water management over the Holocene and Anthropocene, a challenging topic in the social and economic evolution of our society. Finally, the session focuses on the impact of dam constructions on low-order streams, their removal and the following river restoration. We also welcome any advances that integrate environmental and cultural evidence to reflect on decision-making processes as well as environmental planning strategies for the mitigation of the consequences of such human alterations. Applications of different technologies such as remote sensing for Earth surveys (e.g. GPR, LiDAR, SAR, ASTER), empirical and modeling approaches, and geochemical tracing techniques in soils and sediments are welcome, since they can play a key role in the recognition and analysis of the anthropogenic fingerprints on the Earth surface. Early stage researchers are strongly encouraged to present their research.
The outcomes of this multidisciplinary session will be published in a Special Issue in the Journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
This session is mainly sponsored by the BSG - British Society for Geomorphology, and supported by the IAG - International Working Group on Geoarchaeology and PAGES Working Group Soils and Sediments (former LUCIFS).