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PaleolimnologyThe History and Evolution of Lake Systems$
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Andrew S. Cohen

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195133530

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195133530.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 October 2021

Paleolimnology: The Past Meets the Future

Paleolimnology: The Past Meets the Future

(p.397) 15 Paleolimnology: The Past Meets the Future

Andrew S. Cohen

Oxford University Press

Exciting days lie ahead for paleolimnology. As we embark on a new millennium, the opportunities and challenges in this field are extremely bright. As an epilogue to this book, it seems appropriate to conclude with a few of the developments that seem to me particularly promising for the near future. 1. Increasing application of paleolimnological data to address problems in global climate change. Paleolimnologists need to make governments and societies aware of the importance of high-resolution paleorecords from lakes for providing information about baseline variability of the biosphere, consequences and histories of past climate change events, and past responses of our precious aquatic resources to such changes. Paleolimnology should and will increasingly play a role in providing decision-makers with critical information about earth system history as they formulate policies to cope with these changes. Few, if any, paleoenvironmental records provide earth history records in environments as intimately associated with human activity as lake deposits. Lakes and wetlands are increasingly recognized as potentially important components of the global carbon cycle, especially as environments for sequestering large volumes of carbon, and future research will undoubtedly quantify the magnitude and dynamics of this role. Paleolimnologists will need to work even more closely with climate modelers, hydrologists, and atmospheric scientists in years to come, to insure that the paleorecords we study will help resolve important questions about the earth’s climate system. 2. Advances in geobiology. The rapid developments of new and automated tools in molecular biology and organic geochemistry for analyzing small sample volumes and extracting compound-specific isotopic information from organic compounds have important implications for paleolimnology. In years to come we will increasingly rely on organic geochemistry and microbial geobiology to help decipher the organic record of algal primary producers, decomposers, and other elements of the microbial food web. These are components of a lake’s ecosystem that ecologists recognize as immensely important in biogeochemical cycles and as being on the front line of lake responses to changes in climate and watershed processes, but which have heretofore been largely intractable to any detailed interpretation by paleolimnologists.

Keywords:   Bear Lake (USA), Geobiology, Lake Malawi (Africa), Paleoclimate, Time series, Transfer functions, Watersheds

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