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Geophysical Monograph Series



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  • 1632 Global Change: Land cover change
  • 4902 Paleoceanography: Anthropogenic effects
  • 4930 Paleoceanography: Greenhouse gases
  • 4950 Paleoceanography: Paleoecology



Bridging a Disciplinary Gap

W. F. Ruddiman

This paper examines a perceived divide between two groups referred to as “archeologists” and “physical climate scientists.” The former group encompasses field scientists in related disciplines such as geoarcheology, archeobotany, and those aspects of sedimentology and paleoecology that focus on the Holocene. Also included are human geographers who study written historical records of civilizations spanning the last 2 millennia. The latter group covers those working in fields such as atmospheric sciences, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, hydrology, ice core and marine geochemistry, numerical (general circulation) modeling, and carbon-cycle modeling. Few scientists on the two sides of this barrier have successfully bridged this gap, even though the potential benefits of doing so are considerable. This paper makes the case that climate scientists, trying to understand the middle and late Holocene, need to consider how the spread of agriculture transformed past landscapes and potentially altered regional and larger-scale climate. It also points to ways in which archeologists can benefit from placing regional studies in the kind of “big picture” view common in climate studies.

Citation: Ruddiman, W. F. (2012), Bridging a disciplinary gap, in Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 198, edited by L. Giosan et al. 1–10, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2012GM001222.

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