Stream 5: Crossdisciplinary and open topics
Anthropocene and Holocene environmental changes – the past as a window into the future
- Dierk Hebbeln, MARUM-University of Bremen, Germany
- Helge Arz, Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemuende, Germany
- Daniel Hepp, MARUM-University of Bremen, Germany
Orals and posters
During the early Holocene some 12,000 to 7,000 years ago, coastal regions all over the world were drastically reshaped by the final part of the deglacial sea level rise that converted many coastal lowlands to shelf and coastal sea areas. Also after the end of this deglacial sea level rise, climate variability and, thus, changing sea levels, contributed to the continuous dynamic development of the coastal seas. Although future global change will most likely proceed much faster as past Holocene climate changes did, reconstructing the impact of past climate variability on coastal ecosystems can reveal the way these respond to e.g. warming and rising sea levels. Thus, by reading the paleo-environmental record as it is preserved in coastal sediments we might be able assess their development triggered by changing environmental forcing as it also may occur in the future. In addition, in the more recent past a new major forcing factor affecting coastal systems evolved. Over the past millennium humans began to exert an ever increasing impact on coastal zones. However, with the onset of industrialization the scales of impact changed from largely local to regional or even global associated with a dramatic increase in pace. Many human activities, such as e.g. land reclamation, river engineering, deforestation, eutrophication, pollution, and the harvesting of living and non-living marine resources affected coastal ecosystems – and left traces in the sedimentary record. Thus, whereas the investigation of present-day coastal ecosystems usually begins with a first view on an already altered system, the reconstruction of the long-term development of these systems has the potential to provide an insight into their “natural” state. Furthermore, applying paleo-environmental reconstructions to the pathway coastal ecosystems took can help to assess the impact of specific human activities on their development and, thus, also to assess their resilience to various kinds of impact.