Theme 2: Developing management of human-dominated environments with sustained land, ecosystem and atmosphere

Theme 2 addresses the sustainable management of the human-dominated environment illustrated by the interacting spheres in Figure 1. Our ability to modify our environment began on local scales thousands of years ago with the rise of agriculture and other activities that commenced a steadily increasing impact on the earth system. This was amplified during the industrial revolution until it reached the level where it can now clearly be shown that human activities have changed atmospheric composition and other aspects of the earth system on local to global scales. Some of these changes have potentially large economic costs and serious negative impacts on human and ecosystem health. A better understanding of the changing earth system is urgently needed in order to develop strategies for the sustainable management of the global environment. This is a challenging task requiring integrated observations and modeling of key processes operating across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales as illustrated in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Illustration of atmosphere-biosphere interactions coupled to human activities.

The iLEAPS strategy for exploring sustainable management of the human-dominated environment is centered on two foci that consider the complex interactions of the earth system and the role of humans in this system. Focus 1 builds on the quantitative understanding of the fundamental processes described in theme 1 by considering how the changing earth system will modify these processes. The second focus is on the management of the environment including land use and socio-economic aspects.


iLEAPS foci, activities, and top priorities for Theme 2