GloSS scientific goals


GlossHP Fig 07-web

Figure 6: Massive fine and organic-rich overbank deposits deposited in
response to forest clearing (Kananaskis River, Canada).

The objective of the GloSS WG is to determine the sensitivity of soil resources and sediment routing systems to varying land use types, under contrasting climate regimes.

To achieve this, GloSS will analyze the global pattern of past and present anthropogenic soil erosion, its climate and human-induced forcings, and the consequent transfer and storage of sediment along the fluvial sediment routing system to the coastal zone. GloSS focuses on the local and regional impact of anthropogenic activities on soil erosion and sediment transfer through the fluvial system in heterogeneous socio-ecological contexts since the onset of agriculture (i.e. <8,000 years Before Present in Eurasia and equivalent time periods elsewhere).

The objectives and goals of the GloSS WG sit at the nexus of climate, environment and humanity and thus contribute to the interdisciplinary activities at the heart of the PAGES science structure and to the Future Earth initiative, which seeks to answer the following questions:

How is the planet changing due to human activity and natural phenomena?

What are the environmental and societal trends, drivers and processes affecting change and how do they interact?

What are the options and opportunities for change towards sustainability?

GlossHP Fig 06-web

Figure 7: Badland initiation along footpaths and dirt roads on steep slopes
in the tropical Andes (Cuenca, Ecuador).


Successfully addressing these questions in relation to the sustainable use of soils, sediments and river systems requires an understanding of past human-landscape interactions. GloSS, therefore, aims to:

- Update the global network of scientists developing long-term soil erosion and sediment flux histories within socio-ecological systems complied by the LUCIFS WG;

- Develop proxies for, or indices of, human impact on rates of soil erosion and fluvial sediment transfer that are applicable on a global scale and throughout the Holocene;

- Create a global database of long-term (102-104 years) human-accelerated soil erosion and sediment flux records;

- Identify hot spots of soil erosion and sediment deposition during the Anthropocene, and

- Locate data-poor regions where particular socio-ecological systems are not well understood, as strategic foci for future work. 





GlossHP Fig 08-web

Figure 8: The history of soil and sediment transfers is partially recorded in the landscape, as seen in this high resolution topography image from the Le Sueur River, Minnesota USA. For scale, the road observed in the middle of the image is 20 m wide and the difference in elevation between the flat upland surface (in white) and lowest elevation in the channel (light blue) is 60 m.



Figure 9: Sediment budget of the Coon Creek, Wisconsin, impacted by agricultural land use after the European colinisation (Trimble 1997).