The PAGES (Past Global Changes) project, including the PAGES International Project Office in Bern, is funded by the Swiss and U.S. National Science Foundations. The current four-year grant runs from 2006-2010. PAGES was founded in 1991 and works to coordinate international paleoscience research, communicate with the paleoscience community, and integrate past global change scientists from around the world into an international network
OBJECTIVES AND METHODS:
PAGES is a core project of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP) and deals with the Earth’s climatic and environmental history from the last few 100 years to several 100,000 years. The primary objective of PAGES is to improve our understanding of past climate and environmental change. To this end, PAGES works to promote integrative research activities and to support the international past global change community by fostering collaboration and communication, and ensuring access to and dissemination of results, data, and other relevant information. These objectives are achieved through international scientific workshops and conferences, outreach products and activities, scientific publications, and the PAGES newsletter and website. Detailed information on activities and products are available on the PAGES website at http://www.pages-igbp.org.
SCIENTIFIC AREAS OF INTEREST:
While PAGES itself is not a research institution, it helps to identify overarching issues in past global change science and ensure that they are addressed in a coherent manner. Four sets of questions of prime current interest will be targeted by PAGES during the coming years:
1. Climate Forcing and Sensitivity: What is the history of the main climate forcing factors (changes in solar irradiation due to changes in the Earth orbit, changes in solar irradiance due to variability in solar activity, variability of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, influence of volcanic activity, etc.) and the sensitivity of the climate system to these forcings? In what precise sequence have changes in forcings, surface climate, and ecological systems occurred?
2. Regional Climate Variability: How have global climate and the Earth’s natural environment changed in the past? What are the main modes of variability that operated at different timescales, and how do they relate to each other and to the mean state of the climate system?
3. Earth System Dynamics: How have different parts of the Earth System interacted to produce climatic and environmental feedbacks on regional and global scale? What are the causes and thresholds of rapid transitions between quasi-stable climatic and environmental states, in particular on timescales that are relevant to society? How reversible are these changes?
4. Past Human-Climate-Ecosystem Interactions: To what extent and since when has human activity modified climate and the global/regional environment? How can human induced change be disentangled from natural responses to external forcing mechanisms and internal system dynamics?
These questions are addressed through organized scientific activities under the umbrella of PAGES. The activities are carried out by the worldwide past global change community, the PAGES Scientific Steering Committee and the PAGES IPO, often in collaboration with other global change programs.
PAGES provides a paleoscience perspective on global change issues of relevance to society. The PAGES website provides the scientific community, general public, policy makers and other interested parties easy access to paleoscience information, free educational products, contacts and relevant links. PAGES enhances the visibility and communicates the relevance of past global change research by publishing outreach articles and books, and supporting summer schools and outreach activities. Capacity-building efforts, such as regional workshops, publishing assistance and travel support, aimed at young and developing-country scientists are a main priority. The PAGES project is closely engaged with the other core projects in the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), and with the broader global change community.