Ambio – 50 years for the human environment

When the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences started the environmental science journal Ambio in 1972, it was one of the first of its kind in the world. Next year, Ambio will be 50 years old. The anniversary year is celebrated with a look back at the history and growing importance of both the magazine and environmental issues.

Ambio filled a void at the start by showing that the environment is a prerequisite for human life. A look back at the articles published over the years will also be a look back at the view of environmental and climate issues over time.

For the first 20 years, Ambio contains, among other things, articles about the threat to the ozone layer, environmental pollution and the acidification of lakes and forests. The last 30 years have instead been about how climate change affects us and the importance of biodiversity. A shift of focus has taken place from limited environmental problems to a broader approach with the environment as a matter of our own survival.

A clear trend is that over the years, the journal has become increasingly interdisciplinary. It has both been a child of its time and at the same time on several occasions taken the lead by introducing new concepts and ideas. The most quoted article, written by, among others, Nobel Laureate Paul J. Crutzen in 2007, is about the Anthropocene (a term he himself coined a few years earlier as the geological epoch where man had a significant impact on the earth’s geology, climate and ecosystem).

Articles are republished

The anniversary kicks off already in December this year when the first anniversary edition is posted online. There, the professor of environmental history Sverker Sörlin reflects on the 50 years that have passed. Throughout the anniversary year 2021, a selection of previous articles in Ambio will be highlighted where the original authors provide personal comments. Active researchers will also describe the importance of the articles for the research field today and in the future

What does the future hold then? Bo Söderström has been editor-in-chief of the journal for a decade. He notes that Ambio has achieved great success in recent years. And it is a development he is convinced will continue in the future.

– Given the challenges that humanity faces, Ambio’s influence will probably continue to grow, something that has been shown by the fact that it has increased sharply in terms of number of published articles, reach and impact, he says.

Ambio Volume 50, issue 1

50th Anniversary Collection of Thematic Articles