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For much of its history, geography has been very largely a field science, and while today there is an increasing weight placed upon such modern technologies as computer modelling and remote sensing, fieldwork continues to be a major approach to the subject and a fundamental source of many types of inspiration and of data. It is not an exaggeration to say that many of the most significant and influential themes in physical geography and across the geophysical sciences more broadly resulted from the labours of scientists who undertook sustained programmes of work in the field. Among the themes to which one can point with pride are the ideas of Alexander von Humboldt on the indivisibility of nature, Louis Agassiz’s discovery of the Ice Age, Charles Darwin’s work on both the evolution of species and the development of coral reefs, the work of American geologists in the opening up of the American West and the development of ideas on erosion and slope evolution, Baron von Richthofen’s discovery of the true origin of loess, William Morris Davis’s elaboration of the concept of the cycle of erosion, Ellsworth Huntington’s discovery of evidence of climate change in central Asia and its role in driving human history (which led on to environmental determinism), Roy Chapman Andrews’s discovery of dinosaur eggs in Mongolia and Ralph Bagnold’s work on the fundamentals of wind movement of sand and the formation of sand dunes in deserts.
The Anthropocene is a major new concept in the Earth sciences and this book examines the effects on geomorphology within this period. Drawing examples from many different global environments, this comprehensive volume demonstrates that human impact on landforms and land-forming processes is profound, due to various driving forces, including: use of fire; extinction of fauna; development of agriculture, urbanisation, and globalisation; and new methods of harnessing energy. The book explores the ways in which future climate change due to anthropogenic causes may further magnify effects on geomorphology, with respect to future hazards such as floods and landslides, the state of the cryosphere, and sea level. The book concludes with a consideration of the ways in which landforms are now being managed and protected. Covering all major aspects of geomorphology, this book is ideal for undergraduate and graduate students studying geomorphology, environmental science and physical geography, and for all researchers of geomorphology.