We are in the grip of global warming: sea levels are rising; glaciers are melting, Arctic sea ice is thinning, meteorological events are becoming more extreme. But how do these changes compare with the environmental changes that have occurred in the past? How can they be put into perspective? What can we learn from the past to help us better understand how natural and human factors may interact to change our climate and environment in the future?
Global Environments Through the Quaternary delves into the environmental changes that have taken place during the Quaternary: the last 2.6 million years of geological history and time during which humans have evolved and spread across the Earth. Taking the reader through the Pleistocene and the Holocene, Global Environments Through the Quaternary describes the evidence that has helped us to characterize environmental changes during these two epochs; it then explores the changes captured by more recent meteorological records in the period up to the present day. Throughout, it aims to convey the relevance of paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic studies to current environmental and climatic concerns. Climate change research foretells of potentially catastrophic consequences in the future and, even now, early indicators of those changes are evident in the retreating Greenland ice sheet, melting permafrost, changes in fish distributions in northern waters, and more besides. Global Environments Through the Quaternary examines changes to the physical environment throughout the Quaternary, putting current concerns into perspective, and closes with a discussion of the causes of climatic and environmental change over different timescales – and the complex interactions between human impacts and natural processes.
With climate change – itself but part of the perpetual process of environmental change – as important a topic of debate now as at any other time, Global Environments Through the Quaternary is essential reading for any student seeking a balanced, objective overview of this truly interdisciplinary subject.
New to this edition:
- Topics surrounding climate change over various timescales, such as the Cainozoic cooling trend, and orbital forcing, have been expanded and updated, and more background is given on the different systems and notations used to distinguish timescales and chronologies.
- More depth is provided on research methods, including palaeoecological transfer functions, dating techniques, stable isotope geochemistry, and environmental modelling.
- Sections on short-term climate oscillations, future climate trends, and the relationship between human evolution and environmental change have been enhanced with an emphasis on highlighting the relevance of the Quaternary record to current issues.
- New review questions have been added to the end of chapters to aid learning and allow readers to check their understanding.
1: A framework for understanding environmental change
2: Sources of evidence for reconstructing past environments
3: Pleistocene climatic change and environments of mid- to high latitudes
4: Pleistocene environments of lower latitudes
5: Environmental change in post-glacial times
6: Sea-level changes of the Quaternary
7: Environmental change during the period of meteorological records
8: Links between environmental change and human evolution and society
9: The causes of climatic change
Review from the previous edition:
"Overall, this is an excellent all-round textbook on environmental change. It is well worth a purchase – essential for libraries – and is a welcome addition to the Quaternary literature."
– Geological Magazine, 2008