Cartographic Reconstruction of Historical Environmental Change
Historical maps provide large potential for research into historical environmental change. However, the limited availability and accuracy of early cartographic material restricts the analytical time scale of inquiry and poses methodological challenges. An important consideration in this context is the question: at minimum, how accurate must historical maps be in order to be used for which kind of analysis. This question is addressed here, based on the example of a combined analysis of historical maps and satellite images that aimed at reconstructing shoreline aggradation in the Segara Anakan lagoon on the south coast of Java. I present a practical methodological approach to analyzing historical spatial information which has varying degrees of accuracy. In the example presented, this approach links an accuracy assessment of selected historical maps of the region with a lagoon shoreline change analysis. As indicators for the maps’ analytical suitability and the reliability of results, I propose ratios between environmental change rates and quantitative map accuracy measures, as well as combined uncertainty measures. The empirical example demonstrates that in case of large magnitudes of environmental change an analysis of even fairly inaccurate historical maps can provide results with surprisingly low levels of uncertainty. However, large magnitudes of environmental change can also constrain the analysis of historical maps. Quantitative analyses of the accuracy and the contents of historical maps should be accompanied by a qualitative appraisal taking into account carto-bibliographic information and the various dimensions of map accuracy. The maps of change presented in this paper may support further inquiry into the dynamics and drivers of environmental change in the Segara Anakan lagoon region.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication, with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).