GeoCarta Has Moved

Nov 28, 2007

A New Way to Map The World

Earth's 6.6 billion people have reshaped about 3/4 of the planet and now represent a “force of nature rivaling climate and geology in shaping the terrestrial biosphere.” In response, two scientists have proposed a new way to map ecosystems that takes people into account.

More from EarthSky:

The new method divides the globe into anthropogenic biomes, or anthromes, to better describe the human-altered landscape.

So, instead of traditional biomes based on climate and vegetation (tundra, tropical rainforests, grasslands, deserts, etc.), Prof. Erle Ellis of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Prof. Navin Ramankutty of McGill University propose using major categories of anthromes such as “dense settlements,” “villages,” “croplands,” “rangelands,” “forested” and “wildlands.”

They continue: “This new model of the biosphere moves us away from an outdated view of the world as ‘natural ecosystems with humans disturbing them’ and towards a vision of ‘human systems with natural ecosystems embedded within them’.” They contend that the new system is critical to ecological studies and sustainable management of the biosphere in the 21st century.

Full map here.

See also: Worldmapper: A New Way to View the Planet