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AAG 2016 Symposium on Physical Geography: Challenges of the “Anthropocene”

Group members Megan Hill and Katharine Johnson are on the organizing committee for the upcoming Symposium on Physical Geography entitled Challenges of the “Anthropocene” at AAG 2016 in San Francisco. Posters may be submitted after registering for AAG; the deadline is October 29, 2015.

http://www.aag.org/cs/cfp/symposium-on-physical-geography

In 2016, the International Commission on Stratigraphy will consider a proposal from the “Anthropocene” Working Group to formalize the “Anthropocene” as a geological unit within the Geological Time Scale. This designation recognizes a new time interval in which human activities have significantly altered Earth’s conditions and processes. Regardless of whether the Commission will ultimately declare a new geologic time frame, the changes that have occurred (and are continuing) in our climate, land surfaces, vegetation, and waters have profound effects on and implications for human society. Understanding human-induced alterations in the past and present is critical to our ability to anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to changes in the future.

The AAG 2016 Symposium on Physical Geography will explore recent advances relevant to our understanding of the concept of the “Anthropocene” and the problems it poses as humanity interacts with the Earth system. We seek contributions relating to past and contemporary environmental processes and change. Of particular interest are posters in the following areas:

  1. The Early “Anthropocene”: When Did the “Anthropocene” Really Start?
  2. Evidence of Large-scale Human Impacts and Quantifying Recent, Current and Future Anthropogenic Impacts
  3. Couplings and Societal Responses to Human-induced Environmental Change
  4. Measuring Risk and Planning Sustainability in an “Anthropocene” 21st Century

AAG Vice President Glen MacDonald will kick off the Symposium with an opening address, followed by Symposium Plenary Speaker William Ruddiman and other featured keynote speakers and discussants throughout the Symposium. Panel discussions will also explore how geographers are integrating the “Anthropocene” into their work, and how we can better facilitate and foster research and teaching related to this expanding “Anthropocene” concept.

To submit an abstract to this Symposium:

  • Register for the conference at http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/register
  • During abstract submission: select “Poster” as the abstract type
  • Select “Anthropocene” as the Primary Topic
  • In the space for “Special Request” add a note that the abstract submitted is intended for the Symposium on Physical Geography: Challenges of the “Anthropocene.”

The abstract deadline for posters submitted to this symposium is October 29, 2015

Organizing Committee: Anne Chin (Chair), Timothy Beach, AAG Former President Carol Harden, Charles Lafon, AAG Vice President Glen MacDonald, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Katharine Johnson, Megan McCusker Hill, William Solecki, AAG Former President Julie Winkler.

For Further Information: Anne Chin, ANNE.CHIN@ucdenver.edu

Successful Anthropocene session by group members at AAG 2015 Chicago

Group members Kate Johnson and Megan Hill attended the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers which was held this year in Chicago, and which had an attendance of around 9,000 people. In addition to attending a number of fantastic talks, Kate and Megan organized a session called The View from the Anthropocene: Measuring the Historic Human Impact on the Environment and Landscape. The session was co-sponsored by the Geomorphology, Historical Geography and Landscape specialty groups.

The session consisted of theoretical papers and a number of case studies focusing on quantifying the past human impacts on (and interactions with) the landscape, and how these could contribute to a broader understanding of the Anthropocene. The session discussant, Anne Chin (UC Denver, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Anthropocene) synthesized these contributions and provided stimulating questions and themes for discussion of all those who attended the session.

We are grateful to the session presenters and to Anne for their participation!

Session participants and titles:

  • Kathryn A. Catlin, “Archaeology and the Anthropocene: Soil and Scale in the Settlement of Iceland”
  • Katharine Johnson, “Quantifying the Anthropocene: the Physical and Cultural Controls on Stone Wall Construction in Southern New England”
  • Timothy Beach, “The ‘Mayacene’: Maya Mirror for the Americas”
  • Charles W. Martin, “Trace metal storage in recent floodplain sediments along the Dill River, central Germany”
  • Megan McCusker Hill, “Gullies as Markers of Holocene and Anthropocene Environmental Change in southern New England”
  • Suzanne Elizabeth Pilaar Birch, “Reconstructing human-mediated environmental change at the Pleistocene-‘Anthropocene’ transition”
  • Trisha Jackson, “Geochemical Imprints of Society in the Brazilian Amazon”
  • Simon Goring, “Shifts in ecotones position and composition throughout the upper Midwestern United States since EuroAmerican settlement”
  • Discussant: Anne Chin

2015 AAG Call for Papers – The View from the Anthropocene: Measuring the Historic Human Impact on the Environment and Landscape

Group members Megan Hill and Kate Johnson will be co-organizing a session at the 2015 AAG conference in Chicago.

The session is co-sponsored by the Geomorphology, Historical Geography and Landscape specialty groups.

The View from the Anthropocene: Measuring the Historic Human Impact on the Environment and Landscape
Organizers: Megan McCusker Hill and Katharine Johnson, Dept. of Geography, University of Connecticut
Discussant: Dr. Anne Chin, Professor, Dept. of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Denver. Editor-in-chief, Anthropocene.

The U.S. Research Council recently identified one of their Grand Challenges as understanding “How Will Earth’s Surface Evolve in the ‘Anthropocene’?” This proposed geologic epoch has been broadly defined as the recent period of geologic history characterized by drastic and widespread changes to Earth’s surface, ecosystems, landscape, and climate by human activity (e.g., Crutzen and Stoermer 2000, Steffen et al. 2007, Syvitski 2012).

Meeting the challenge put forth by the U.S. National Research Council in 2010 requires detailed studies on past and present human interactions with earth surface processes over multiple spatial and temporal scales (Chin et al., 2013). Specific interactions can be measured within specific disciplines (e.g., climate science, geology, archaeology) however these interactions all occur within a spatial framework and thus are brought together under the discipline of Geography. Understanding these interactions from a historic perspective then provides a context for the present and future. As a result, it is vitally important to be able to reconstruct or understand how humans have transformed the earth on historic timescales, and what this means for our future.

Through this paper session, we hope to further studies regarding the Anthropocene by creating a discussion with a focus on quantifying the historic human impact on the landscape and the implications for our present and future. We seek to bring together a broad range of research interests and locations to discuss the present epoch of the Anthropocene and the many physical and spatial forms that it has taken. Papers should emphasize an analysis or critical evaluation of historic human impacts on the landscape.

Citations

Chin, A., Fu, R., Harbor, J., Taylor, M.P., and Vanacker, V. 2013. Anthropocene: Human interactions with earth systems. Anthropocene 1: 1-2.

Crutzen, P.J. and Stoermer, E.F. 2000. The ‘Anthropocene’. IGBP Newsletter 41: 17-18.

National Research Council. 2010. Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth’s Surface. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

Steffen, W., Crutzen, P.J., and McNeill, J.R. 2007. The Anthropocene: are humans now overwhelming the great forces of nature?. Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment 36(8): 614-621.

Syvitski, James. 2012. “Anthropocene: An epoch of our making” Global Change Magazine 78:12-15.

The Economist. 2011. A man-made world: The Anthropocene – Humankind is becoming a geological force. Accessed 21 September 2014, published 31 May, 2011 http://www.economist.com/content/anthropocene?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/theanthropocene

Session Participants and tentative paper titles

  • Discussant: Dr. Anne Chin
  • Kathryn A. Catlin, “Archaeology and the Anthropocene: Soil and Scale in the Settlement of Iceland”
  • Katharine Johnson, “Quantifying the Anthropocene: the Physical and Cultural Controls on Stone Wall Construction in Southern New England”
  • Timothy Beach, “The ‘Mayacene’: Maya Mirror for the Americas”
  • Charles W. Martin, “Trace metal storage in recent floodplain sediments along the Dill River, central Germany”
  • Megan McCusker Hill, “Gullies as Markers of Holocene and Anthropocene Environmental Change in southern New England”
  • Suzanne Elizabeth Pilaar Birch, “Reconstructing human-mediated environmental change at the Pleistocene-‘Anthropocene’ transition”
  • Trisha Jackson, “Geochemical Imprints of Society in the Brazilian Amazon”
  • Simon Goring, “Shifts in ecotones position and composition throughout the upper Midwestern United States since EuroAmerican settlement”