Lacustrine sediment accumulation provides meaningful and diverse long-term records of environmental change. This overview highlights the usefulness of the paleolimnological approach in evaluating the magnitude and direction of human-induced environmental change in lakes and their catchments. Because of the services they provide, freshwater ecosystems have always been significantly affected by human activities. However, the rate and extent of human-induced change in continental freshwaters and their catchments has considerably increased since the beginning of industrialization (mid-18th century), and are even more pronounced since the advent of the “Great Acceleration” (since the mid-20th century). Global change, including climate and landscape changes, loss of biodiversity, species introductions and the spread of pollutants, leave traces in lake sediment archives that provide valuable long-term information with which to evaluate and quantify past environmental changes. This paper outlines how the knowledge gleaned from an interdisciplinary paleolimnological approach can benefit the development of mitigation and adaptation measures to current global change at various latitudes.
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