Landscape and climate change

Authored by: Catherine Leyshon , Hilary Geoghegan

The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415684606
eBook ISBN: 9780203096925
Adobe ISBN: 9781136220609


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In this chapter we review the current and future trajectories of landscape in the study of climate change across the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. There are three main challenges of writing such a review. First, as noted elsewhere in this volume, there are multiple and sometimes competing definitions of landscape. The intractability of these definitions is compounded by the fact that they do not always map neatly onto conventional academic disciplines. Landscape is a unit of analysis well understood in the natural sciences as a particular scale of spatial analysis which has featured heavily in the literature on climate change (Brierley 2010). Landscape, in this instance, comprises all the physical, biological and cultural phenomena interacting in a region, exhibiting historical ‘depth’ in the shape of the residues of antecedent landscapes. This landscape is the object of study for geomorphologists, palaeobotanists, ecologists, archaeologists and others interested in examining the interactions between human and biophysical elements. In addition, landscape has also been theorized as explicitly cultural, the product of human agency, imagination and socio-spatial relations. Much depends on the epistemological and ontological status of landscape in any given study.

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