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Selection: Barnosky:AD [5 articles] 

Publications by author Barnosky:AD.

Trajectories of the Earth system in the Anthropocene

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (06 August 2018), 201810141,


We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the ...


Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

Science Advances, Vol. 1, No. 5. (19 10:51:26 June 2015),


The oft-repeated claim that Earth’s biota is entering a sixth “mass extinction” depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the “background” rates prevailing in the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions ...


When did the Anthropocene begin? A mid-twentieth century boundary level is stratigraphically optimal

Quaternary International (January 2015),


We evaluate the boundary of the Anthropocene geological time interval as an epoch, since it is useful to have a consistent temporal definition for this increasingly used unit, whether the presently informal term is eventually formalized or not. Of the three main levels suggested – an ‘early Anthropocene’ level some thousands of years ago; the beginning of the Industrial Revolution at ∼1800 CE (Common Era); and the ‘Great Acceleration’ of the mid-twentieth century – current evidence suggests that the last of ...


Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?

Nature, Vol. 471, No. 7336. (3 March 2011), pp. 51-57,


Palaeontologists characterize mass extinctions as times when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540million years or so. Biologists now suggest that a sixth mass extinction may be under way, given the known species losses over the past few centuries and millennia. Here we review how differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological information influence our understanding of the ...


Approaching a state shift in Earth/'s biosphere

Nature, Vol. 486, No. 7401. (7 June 2012), pp. 52-58,


Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale tipping point highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, ...

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