Global acceleration in rates of vegetation change over the past 18,000 years

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Science  21 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6544, pp. 860-864
DOI: 10.1126/science.abg1685

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The pace of Holocene vegetation change

Although much is known about the rapid environmental changes that have occurred since the Industrial Revolution, the patterns of change over the preceding millennia have been only patchily understood. Using a global set of >1100 fossil pollen records, Mottl et al. explored the rates of vegetation change over the past 18,000 years (see the Perspective by Overpeck and Breshears). The authors show that the rates of change accelerated markedly during the Late Holocene (∼4.6 to 2.9 thousand years ago), even more rapidly than the climate-driven vegetation changes associated with the end of the last glacial period. In addition, the Late Holocene acceleration began for terrestrial communities as a whole, suggesting that the acceleration in turnover over the past two centuries is the tip of a deeper trend.

Science, abg1685, this issue p. 860; see also abi9902, p. 786

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