PAGES Past Global Changes and PEP Pole EquatorPole transects

Von Post (1946) emphasized that the reconstruction of Holocene climate history at a global scale could "scarcely be carried out without organized international collaboration". COHMAP (see above) was the first major international collaboration in Holocene climate research. The PAGES (Past Global Changes) core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program has greatly stimulated further international research collaboration. The idea of Pole-Equator-Pole transects in the Americas (PEP I), Asia and Australasia (PEP II), and Europe and Africa (PEP III) was proposed and developed by Ray Bradley, Vera Markgraf, Herman Zimmerman, and others in the mid-1990s (Bradley et al. 1995). The idea was to study and reconstruct Holocene climate history using a variety of records along broad-scale transects that cut across major climatic gradients in insolation, hydro-logic regimes, and atmospheric circulation patterns.

The results of these PEP transects are now published (Markgraf 2001; Battarbee et al. 2004; Dodson et al. 2004). These publications plus the PAGES synthesis volume (Alverson et al. 2003) and Frank Oldfield's (2005) vision of environmental change based on his experiences as Executive Director of PAGES between 1996 and 2001 provide major overviews of the amazing scientific achievements of the international PAGES research community over the past decade. The PAGES research summarized in Alverson et al. (2003) shows the enormous advances that have been made in terms of the range of proxies studied, improved temporal resolution, deep interpretative insights, and increased spatial coverage, even though the editors describe the book as "a progress report in the search for the past". They emphasize that

"The scientific findings give cause for both exhilaration and concern. The exhilaration lies in appreciating the remarkable increase in our understanding of the complexity and elegance ofthe Earth System. The concern is rooted in recognising that we are now pushing the planet beyond anything experienced naturally for many thousands of years. The records of the past show that climate shifts can appear abruptly and be global in extent, while archaeological and other data emphasize that such shifts have had devastating consequences for human societies. In the past, therefore, lies a lesson. And as this book illustrates, we should heed it." (Alverson et al. 2003, p. iv)

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