Fig. 1. Slow and fast processes.
Note: Timescales for a range of biophysical and socioeconomic phenomena range from “fast” subannual events (e.g., floods, fire) to “slow” multidecadal and centennial changes (e.g., culture). Understanding contemporary socioecological systems may require information from a similar range of timescales, but sources of information become more limited for longer timescales. The sources of information available for each segment of timescale with respect to the present are depicted by the lower horizontal bars. Observations and measurements (e.g., instruments, remote sensing, censuses, economic statistics), and documents (e.g., diaries, gazetteers, land use descriptions) may only be available for relatively short timescales. Changes over longer timescales of change that are essential for assessing the role of “slow” processes (the thick vertical bar) may need to be reconstructed. Reconstruction covers all the palaeoenvironmental fields, including archaeology, palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology, and palaeohydrology, that interpret artifacts and natural sediment archives (e.g., lake sediments, stalagmites, peat) in terms of past environment and society. After Oldfield (1983) and Brand (1999).