Exploring the Anthropocene: Mapping land-system change until 2100 under the Shared Socio-economic Pathways
Wielen, W.E.I. van der
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The effects of humans on the Earth are so profound, that it is argued that the Holocene has been substituted by the ‘Anthropocene’ era (Crutzen, 2002; Steffen & Mcneill, 2007; Zalasiewicz et al., 2011). Since it is likely that the global population, income, and food consumption will continue to increase, it is expected that the human-environmental interactions will do so too (Doelman et al., 2018). As human impacts on ecosystems become increasingly pronounced, nature-focused classification systems hinder our understanding and assessment of the broad-scale dynamics of planetary change (Ellis et al., 2010). To capture full global patterns of direct human interaction with ecosystems, an alternative quantification of the terrestrial biosphere in the Anthropocene has been introduced; ‘Anthropogenic biomes’ or ‘Anthromes’ (Ellis & Ramankutty, 2008). Anthromes provide a simple framework for assessing and mapping both past and future land-systems in the light of the extent, intensity and duration of their modification by humans (Ellis et al., 2010). This research explores how global land-systems change under diverging human-land interactions up to 2100. This is done by mapping Anthromes under the full set of Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs). It draws upon existing work on past Anthromes. To enable the exploration of future land-systems, the existing Anthrome framework is adapted, necessary input data on future human-land interactions is processed and subsequently future global and regional Anthromes are visualized. Findings show that global composition of the Anthromes remains relatively stable for most scenarios. Regional differences in dynamics are sharper. Based on these results it can be concluded that influence of human impacts on the land-systems, and consequently Earth System, are increasing, especially in Africa. Though there are differences observed between the scenarios. At the very least, global human impact on the terrestrial Earth will not decrease until 2100 for all scenarios but SSP1-2.6. Therefore, this thesis emphasizes the importance of ‘sustainable development’ and contributes to the theory of the start of an Anthropocene era.