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The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-09-12, 14:53 authored by Colin N. Waters, Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin Summerhayes, Anthony D. Barnosky, Clément Poirier, Agnieszka Gałuszka, Alejandro Cearreta, Matt Edgeworth, Erle C. Ellis, Michael Ellis, Catherine Jeandel, Reinhold Leinfelder, J. R. McNeill, Daniel deB. Richter, Will Steffen, James Syvitski, Davor Vidas, Michael Wagreich, Mark Williams, An Zhisheng, Jacques Grinevald, Eric Odada, Naomi Oreskes, Alexander P. Wolfe
Human activity is leaving a pervasive and persistent signature on Earth. Vigorous debate continues about whether this warrants recognition as a new geologic time unit known as the Anthropocene. We review anthropogenic markers of functional changes in the Earth system through the stratigraphic record. The appearance of manufactured materials in sediments, including aluminum, plastics, and concrete, coincides with global spikes in fallout radionuclides and particulates from fossil fuel combustion. Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles have been substantially modified over the past century. Rates of sea-level rise and the extent of human perturbation of the climate system exceed Late Holocene changes. Biotic changes include species invasions worldwide and accelerating rates of extinction. These combined signals render the Anthropocene stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene and earlier epochs.

History

Citation

Science, 2016, 351 (6269), aad2622

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Geology

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Science

Publisher

American Association for the Advancement of Science

issn

0036-8075

eissn

1095-9203

Copyright date

2016

Available date

2016-09-12

Publisher version

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6269/aad2622

Language

en