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New colours of the world

The world is still changing. Because of that, there is an increasing need for new classifications of individual systems to help determine the state, pattern, and dynamics of change in each area. However, most global systems only include natural conditions. But what about abiotic factors, biodiversity, or human influence? Aleš Hrdina and Dušan Romportl from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology at Charles University used all mentioned and much more in their quest for a new classification of Global Environmental Systems.

There are many changes in the contemporary world that need to be registered, described, and monitored. However, specific knowledge and a precise and robust approach in defining spatial units are important to better understand this issue. Today’s improved technologies and the abundance of high-resolution spatial data are helping to enhance and answer more questions. Many researchers have already tried to describe new global systems, but often with the omission of anthropogenic influence, biodiversity, or biotic and abiotic factors.

Another dominant anthropogenic factor in today's landscape are houses – e.g. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Photo: Magda Křelinová.

Aleš Hrdina and Dušan Romportl mapped in detail the essential factors influencing each area to create a completely new innovative classification, using information on these neglected factors. They thus proceeded to analyse ecological and environmental processes in different countries around the world.

The scientists first analyse the abiotic data, which included various climate information and terrain characteristics. Biotic factors were represented by the representation of terrestrial vertebrates and plant diversity, reflecting both natural conditions and long-term human impact. The last factor, which enter the analyses, was the anthropogenic factor, which included population density, livestock numbers per area, average time to access resources, services and opportunities (which are mainly concentrated in cities), and information about landscape cover. From this data, the researchers first created 3 maps depicting each class characterizing abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic factors.

Roads fragment the landscape and thus affect many factors – e.g. road between trees - Galway, Ireland
Photo: Magda Křelinová.

A significant output of this work has been a detailed innovative world map at a detailed 1x1 km resolution, which includes a total of 169 comparable classes - Global Environmental Systems. These classes are a combination of individual values of natural - abiotic and biotic, and anthropogenic factors. The great advantage of this map is that it can be used at both global and regional scales. In addition to the multidisciplinary use of this map, scientists also highlight its potential use in analysing the impacts of climate change, quantifying changes in landscape cover, or biodiversity monitoring.

The map of Global Environmental Systems is available online. Source: Authors of the original article.


Aleš Hrdina & Dušan Romportl (2023): Global environmental systems – multivariate anthropoecological classification, Journal of Maps

Kateřina Fraindová

Published: Jun 19, 2023 07:00 PM

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