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International Geographical Union
Russian National Committee

The Environment Evolution Commission

A. The name of the commission

C04.10 The Environment Evolution Commission

B. A concise statement of the Commission's mission.

An evolution analysis of terrestrial environments (landscape-climatic system) is necessary for understanding contemporary state of this system, estimating its stability and variability under conditions of a complicated interaction between natural trends of environmental evolution and an anthropogenic impact. Thus, a natural trend towards cooling, identified from paleogeographic data, is superimposed upon the process of the man-induces warming. Such a combination of governing factors influencing the landscape-climatic system in opposite directions brings about its diminishing stability.

An evolutionary analysis, in its turn, clearly shows that characteristics times of various landscape components (e.g., relief, vegetation, soil cover, etc.) should be taken into consideration, especially when analysing highly unstable geosystems. Such a "chronospectral" analysis of geosystems is of special importance under conditions of the unprecedented speed of the global warming.

Finally, it is necessary to take into consideration a further development of the palaeoanalogue method applied to evaluation of the upcoming environmental changes due to the man-induced global warming.

The above-mentioned interrelated problems may be considered as the basis of the scientific and coordinating activities of the proposed Commission. As a strategic approach of the Commission in the studies of these problems, we suggest to maintain the research of the LCS evolution during the last 10,000 years in the key-regions where the extreme LCS changes are currently registered or expected (for example, the polar regions, areas of increasing aridity, extratropical monsoon regions, and the mid-latitude areas with the growing frequencies of the climatic extremes).

C. A list of the individuals who will comprise the commission's steering committee.

Dr. Andrei Velichko Ц Chair (Russia; )
Dr. Elena Novenko Ц secretary (Russia, )
Dr. Tatjana Boettger (Germany; )
Dr. Leszek Starkel (Poland; )
Dr. Wladimir Bleuton (Netherlands; )
Dr. Norm Catto (Kanada; )
Dr. Glen MacDonald (USA; )
Dr. Peter Kershow (Australia; )
Dr. Charles Tuner (Great Britain; )
Dr. El Haji Sow (Senegal; )

D. A description of the scholarly importance of the anticipated results of the Commission's work.

The Commission activities would presumably make a considerable contribution to the following lines of research:
  1. In the physical-geographic research, it would help to introduce evolutionary approach to the assessment of modern state of geosystems, and therefore would help to better understand mechanism of their evolution;
  2. To acquire knowledge on history of evolution and on inherited characteristics of individual components of landscapes (such as vegetation, soils, permafrost, etc.), thus contributing to progress in particular branches of geography;
  3. Differential analysis of environmental component response to global and regional climatic changes, taking into consideration data on characteristic times of landscape reorganization (inferred from paleoreconstructions);
  4. Investigations of geosystem stability limits at different levels of global climatic changes;
  5. A wide use of paleoanalogues would contribute considerably to development of prognostic scenarios of geosystem states.

E. Commission's activity

2005. A short meeting of the Environment Evolution Commission took place on March 8, 2005, during the DEKLIM Conference in Mainz, Germany (March 7-10, 2005) which a group of the Commission members attended. The participants of the meeting: A.A. Velichko (chairman), T. Boettger, Ch. Turner, P. Kerschow, F. Junge, E. Novenko

The main goal of this meeting was to determine general strategy of the Commission activities. The following lines of approach have been proposed.

  1. To concentrate the efforts on the Holocene (the last 10-12 kyr). The investigation of landscape dynamics through this time interval would allow us to assess more confidently the position of modern environments in the general evolutionary process. The principal lines of research proposed are: Landscape dynamics; Natural Processes; and Human impact.
  2. As a first step of investigation the choice of key-regions both in South and North hemispheres has been proposed. The key region should meet the following requirements: availability of detailed paleobotanical information (pollen, macrofossil, diatoms, etc); geomorphological data, paleolimnic and paleohydrological materials, dendrochronological records, radiocarbon dates, stable isotope data and the evidence about beginning of human activities. On the base of this records the paleoclimatic reconstructions and paleoenvironmental maps for different time-slices will be compiled.
  3. A special attention should be paid to last 1000 years, including the Little Glacial Age, Medieval optimum and transitional period to the present days.
2006. The International Conference "Man and Environment in Pleistocene and Holocene: Evolution of waterways and early Settlement of Northern Europe" was held in St. Petersburg from 14 to 16 April.

The conference included 20 presentations in 3 sessions; these were both interesting and informative. The papers included general topics related to initial human settlement and changes in prehistoric economies in northern Eurasia during Late Pleistocene and Holocene, as well as concrete case studies, focused on relationship between human settlement and changes in the environment. Interestingly new evidence became available that agriculture appeared in the forest boreal zone much earlier than had been previously supposed.

The journal Quaternary International has kindly agreed to publish the materials of the Conference. Prof. Pavel Dolukhanov (Newcastle University) who was co-chair of this conference, and Dr. Andrei Velichko have selected 16 papers which could present interest for QI. According to the plans, this volume will be ready for publication by the end of August. Presentation of working groups of the Environment Evolution Commission.

  1. A. A. Velichko, P.M. Dolukhanov, E.I. Kurenkova, S.N. Timireva, Yu.N. Gribchenko and E.Yu. Novenko
    Stages of human settlement in Northern Eurasia (Eastern Europe and Siberia)
  2. E.Yu. Novenko, D .N. Koslov and Yu. G. Pusachenko
    Late Holocene vegetation and climate history in the south Valdai Upland: pollen records from the Central Forest State Reserve (Russia)
  3. T. Boettger, F.W. Junge, A. Hiller, D. Mania and C. Kremenetski.
    Reconstruction of environmental change during Late Glacial/Early Holocene by using stable isotope, pollen, mollusc and radiocarbon analyses of sediment profile Plinz (Thuringia, Central Germany)
  4. Ch. Turner
    Reconstructing Middle to Late Holocene forest cover in southern Britain Ц a brief review
  5. M. Stancikaite, P. Sinkunas, D. Kisieliene, T. Ostrauskas
    Holocene environmental changes and human response in the Birzulis Lake region, NW Lithuania
  6. V. Zernitskaya, S. Savchik, and G. Simakova
    Records of agricultural activities in Holocene pollen spectra of Belarus and correlation with other areas
Plans for 2007.
  1. Discussion of the first results obtained by regionsl WGs, development of general unified principles in the results preparation (including graphs and schematic maps).
  2. Comparative analysis of geosystem evolution in individual regions as constotuents of a single global system; identification of natural trends of landscape evolution; elucidation of the anthropogenic constituent role in evolution of geosystems; development of scenarios of geosystem evolution in the intervals of intrasecular and inter-secular changes. France, at the International Geographical Festival, Saint-Die, 9 Ц 15 October 2007.
  3. Final presentation of the Commission activity results at the IGU Congress in Tunisia.


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