About the Project

The University of Chicago Program on the Global Environment is pleased to announce the formation of The LandUse6k Working Group under the leadership of Kathleen Morrison, Neukom Family Professor in Anthropology and the College.

LandUse6k is an international and interdisciplinary research group dedicated to reconstructing human land use over the past 10,000 years. The goal of this initiative is to critically evaluate and improve models of anthropogenic land cover change used in local and global climate models. This work is urgently needed. Current climate models make little use of the vast repository of evidence about human history,  an awareness that humans are one agent of global change. Vegetation is known to change in response to many factors, including human land use, but the complex and variable relationships between land use and land cover are still insufficiently understood. Differing assumptions about these relationships have led to significant differences between models of anthropogenic land cover change, a critical shortcoming with immediate scientific and policy implications for work on global climate. The development of more accurate and complete historical land use and land cover maps will also support and fuel research into a wide variety of fields and thus is of interest well beyond the community of climate scholars.

LandUse6k, based at the University of Chicago, is a direct contributor to LandCover6k, a working group of PAGES (Past Global Changes). Founded in 1991, PAGES is a core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP).  The inclusion of the historical human disciplines makes the Landcover6k effort unique in the world of large-scale international scientific collaborations.

Working groups of the Program on the Global Environment consist of bodies of scholars meeting regularly to purse multi-disciplinary research on a highly focused environmental topic. By providing a forum for sustained interaction between scholars, we expect to promote a greater depth of collaborative research on important topics of environmental concern. LandUse6k joins the Environment, Agriculture, and Food Working Group (EAF), founded in 2010 as the first PGE working group.

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LandCover6k coordinator
  Marie-José Gaillard-Lemdahl

LandUse6k coordinator
  Kathleen D. Morrison

Nicki Whitehouse
Marco Madella

Data manager
Emily Hammer

Project assistant
Amelia Clements