• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

The challenge of adapting marine social-ecological systems to the additional stress of climate change

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (2010)
Perry R I, Ommer R E, Barange M and Werner F
DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2010.10.004
Vol 2; Issue 5-6: pp. 356–363

A broad marine policy goal is to maintain healthy marine social–ecological systems that sustain desirable ecosystem services and support human livelihoods. Marine social–ecological systems are already stressed by a number of environmental factors and the impacts of globalisation. Climate change is an additional stress that may push marine social–ecological systems beyond the ranges of past variability to which they have become adapted. Human social systems have well-developed strategies for dealing with variability within their normal ranges of experience, although these capacities are not distributed homogeneously around the globe. This paper addresses the additional impacts of climate change on marine social–ecological systems that are focussed around fishing. For example, human social fishing systems dealing with high variability upwelling systems with rapidly reproducing fish species may have greater capacities to adjust to the additional stress of climate change than human social fishing systems focussed on longer-lived and generally less variable species. The details of local impacts of climate change and its interactions with existing stresses on marine social–ecological systems are difficult to predict but will lead to more extreme events and increased uncertainty. Management must strive to enhance the adaptive capacities of these systems to uncertainty and change. Primary challenges are to address non-climate change stresses such as overfishing and how they may interact with climate change to produce surprises, and to recognise that multiple interacting time, space and organisational scales make identification and resolution of impacts difficult. Additional challenges are to develop integrated observing and modelling systems for the full social–ecological system so as to quickly recognise changes, to enhance communications with stakeholders, and to develop flexible institutions that can adjust rapidly to new circumstances.

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