Pressure

Pressure indicators represent the first stage to express the consequences of various, mainly human-induced actions which are results of particular constellations of driving forces. Hence, pressure indicators are often linked to specific causes. Different forms ofhuman activities like certain types of spatial utilization of land, sea, or air are classical forms of pressures in human-environmental systems. Their spatial extensions are observed and monitored by using state-of-the-art techniques like remote sensing, GIS, spatial databases, or digital/analog maps.

In general, all human activities affecting the environment can be classified as pressures. Special attention has to be paid to the effects of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide or methane. Due to their capacity to affect the global climate and thus life on Earth, this form of pressure takes an exceptional position. Consequences as sea level and temperature rising, glacier retreat, or increase of extreme weather events are following nonsus-tainable patterns of consumption and production. However, the socioeconomic causes and effects of global change are extremely manifold and complex. Therefore, it is addressed in many cases as an external (or exogenous) factor acting upon the human-environmental system.

In comparison to the drivers, pressure indicators can be identified and measured more easily. Often, indicators and corresponding parameters can be derived from socioeconomic or environmental databases. Due to the close linkage of pressures to human actions they are more responsive to changes and developments in the system. In addition to spatial extensions of the land use types, their intensities have to be taken into account too. For example, certain single-spot activities (e.g., an industrial plant) can have much higher effects on the whole system than spatially wide-stretching forms of land use (e.g., extensive animal husbandry).

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