European palaeoenvironments of the past 15,000 years:
Climate change, vegetation and the human dimension (EPOPS)
The overall objective of the proposed research project is to improve understanding of the links between the climate system and terrestrial ecosystems.
This will be achieved by analysing in detail palynological records of palaeoclimate and palaeovegetation for the last 15,000 years in Europe, by linking these to the archaeological/archaeobiological record of both human presence and activities (e.g. crop husbandry) during the same period, and by linking these observational records of palaeoclimate, palaeovegetation and past land use to simulation models of both climate and ecosystems.
This novel approach will enable us to attain the improved understanding that is our objective. In particular, we will test a series of hypotheses relating to the causes and mechanisms of past climatic changes, and to the linkages between regional climate changes and both natural and anthropogenic changes in the vegetation cover of Europe.
The results of this work will lead to improvements in our abilities to predict future climate changes, and especially to incorporate into such predictions the feedback effects that result from anthropogenic land-use changes and from the interactions of terrestrial ecosystems with the atmosphere. Improving the understanding of these feedbacks and of past climatic changes, as well as the resultant increased skill in predicting regional climatic changes, are amongst the identified goals of Key Action 2 of the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development work programme. Our project will contribute directly to the achievement of these goals.