Report on the proposal EPOPS which has been submitted to the EU 5th Framework Programme (Brian Huntley)

European palaeoenvironments of the past 15,000 years:
Climate change, vegetation and the human dimension (EPOPS)

A proposal has been submitted to the EC Framework 5 Programme for a project that will use and take forward the European Pollen Database. The proposal is co-ordinated by Brian Huntley and also includes as partners the group at Marseille/Arles responsible for the EPD, Thomas Litt and Richard Bradshaw. Several other members of the Advisory Board are included as sub-contractors. In addition, the proposal includes climate (Paul Valdes, Reading) and vegetation (Martin Sykes, Lund) modellers, archaeobiologists (Stefanie Jacomet and Jörg Schibler, Basel) and a group with expertise in the use of satellite remotely-sensed data to map present land-use/-cover (Barry Wyatt and Geoff Smith, ITE Monks Wood).

The overall objective of the proposed research project is to improve understanding of the links between the climate system and terrestrial ecosystems.

This will be achieved by analysing in detail palynological records of palaeoclimate and palaeovegetation for the last 15,000 years in Europe, by linking these to the archaeological/archaeobiological record of both human presence and activities (e.g. crop husbandry) during the same period, and by linking these observational records of palaeoclimate, palaeovegetation and past land use to simulation models of both climate and ecosystems.

This novel approach will enable us to attain the improved understanding that is our objective. In particular, we will test a series of hypotheses relating to the causes and mechanisms of past climatic changes, and to the linkages between regional climate changes and both natural and anthropogenic changes in the vegetation cover of Europe.

The results of this work will lead to improvements in our abilities to predict future climate changes, and especially to incorporate into such predictions the feedback effects that result from anthropogenic land-use changes and from the interactions of terrestrial ecosystems with the atmosphere. Improving the understanding of these feedbacks and of past climatic changes, as well as the resultant increased skill in predicting regional climatic changes, are amongst the identified goals of Key Action 2 of the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development work programme. Our project will contribute directly to the achievement of these goals.