What do we know and what do we need to know about the macaronesian paleoclimate?: answering with participatory appraisal methods
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Participatory appraisal (PA) is an approach or research procedure that seeks to incorporate the knowledge and opinions of a community with the aim of improving an area of concern. PA has several advantages over scientific discussions, as it can be used to share, analyse and evaluate diverse issues, and because it enhances creativity and group participation, regardless of participants’ backgrounds. PA is based on flexible, innovative, and highly visual tools that allow the generation of large amounts of information in short time. In this case, our aim was to define the state of knowledge about palaeoclimate of Macaronesia. To do this, we tried to address the following questions: What do we know? How sure are we? Do we agree? What are the key events and their consequences? Then, we established a research agenda by asking: What should we study next? Results indicated the best known regions (Azores-Canaries) and periods (Holocene to LGM), and highlighted a certain degree of uncertainty about our knowledge of climate history in the region. Key climatic events were mainly related to four environmental variables (temperature, humidity, wind regime and sea level oscillation), which were also considered as decisive variables for future research. Researchers agreed that most of the topics requiring future research should be addressed urgently.