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Gerhard Smiatek
and
Harald Kunstmann

Abstract

The pan-African Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel initiative (GGW) is a reforestation program to reverse the degradation of land. We investigate characteristics of mean precipitation due to proposed land-use changes to woody savannah with three hypothetical courses of the GGW, with an area between 0.8 and 1.25 million km2, and between the 100- and 400-mm isohyets. The global Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) was applied for this investigation, employing ensembles with 40 members for the rainy season from June to September and 50 members for August when precipitation is at its peak. In comparison with the observational reference, the results show that a wet bias on the order of 33% in the eastern Sahel and a moderate dry bias of −41% in the western Sahel are present in the MPAS simulations. Our simulations do not provide any significant evidence for GGW-induced changes in the characteristics of the summer precipitation, for positive changes within the Sahel supporting the forestation activities, or for potentially adverse changes in the neighboring regions. Changes are present at the regional scale, but they are not significant at the 5% level. Also, changes simulated for further hydrometeorological variables such as temperature, radiation fluxes, or runoff are comparatively small.

Open access
Joshua M. Walston
,
Stephanie A. McAfee
, and
Daniel J. McEvoy

Abstract

Drought is a recurrent natural phenomenon, but there is concern that climate change may increase the frequency or severity of drought in Alaska. Because most common drought indices were designed for lower latitudes, it is unclear how effectively they characterize drought in Alaska’s diverse, high-latitude climates. Here, we compare three commonly used meteorological drought indices [the standardized precipitation index (SPI), the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI), and the self-calibrating Palmer drought severity index (scPDSI)] with each other and with streamflow across Alaska’s 13 climate divisions. All of the drought indices identify major droughts, but the severity of the drought varies depending on the index used. The SPI and the SPEI are more flexible and often better correlated with streamflow than the scPDSI, and we recommend using them. Although SPI and SPEI are very similar in energy-limited climates, the drought metrics do diverge in drier locations in recent years, and consideration of the impact of temperature on drought may grow more important in the coming decades. Hargreaves potential evapotranspiration (PET) estimates appeared more physically realistic than the more commonly used Thornthwaite equation and are equally easy to calculate, so we suggest using the Hargreaves equation when PET is estimated from temperature. This study, one of the first to evaluate drought indices for high-latitude regions, has the potential to improve drought monitoring and representation within the U.S. Drought Monitor, leading to more informed decision-making during drought in Alaska, and it improves our ability to track changes in drought driven by rising temperatures.

Significance Statement

Tracking drought at high latitudes is challenging because we have not adequately studied drought impacts in cold climates, and the primary meteorological drought indices were designed for lower latitudes and may not accurately estimate evaporative demand and the influence of snow. We investigate three common drought indices and recommend using the standardized precipitation index (SPI) or the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) because they can track short and long droughts. The SPEI may be more useful because comparisons between the SPI and SPEI show that, in recent decades, temperature has made noticeable contributions to drought in drier parts of Alaska. If using the SPEI, we suggest the Hargreaves potential evapotranspiration rather than the Thornthwaite because it is more physically realistic.

Open access
Mayra I. Rodríguez González
,
Christian Kelly Scott
,
Tatiana Marquina
,
Demeke B. Mewa
,
Jorge García Polo
, and
Binbin Peng

Abstract

Strategies that demonstrate renewed potential to enhance both social and ecological systems are crucial in today’s era of rapid urbanization. However, the approaches used to understand the impacts of such strategies sometimes favor social over environmental theory, or the opposite, but do not always consider both equally. Our study addresses this disconnect by exploring the role of urban agriculture (UA) as an alleviation and land management strategy in Mexico City (MC), Mexico. Our integrated design combined the ecosystem services framework, which was primarily used to assess material and nonmaterial benefits MC residents obtain from UA spaces and its associated vegetation, and the livelihoods framework, which was used to evaluate the relationship between UA and societal impacts. We used a mixed-method approach to quantify the amount of food produced, assess crop diversity, assess six distinct ecological processes linked to UA, identify cultural benefits, and conduct an evaluation of contributions to livelihood capitals. Our study documented the role of UA in supporting ecological processes, connecting humans to nature, and providing a supplemental source of income. However, a multitude of unintended outcomes are identified, such as trade-offs between different ecological processes, constraints in promoting formal education beyond agroecological knowledge, and an inability to fully elevate families out of poverty. Our integrated approach demonstrated how the ecosystem services and livelihoods frameworks can be used simultaneously to provide thorough assessments of socioecological systems, identifying outcomes that could go unnoticed without an interdisciplinary lens.

Open access
Coralie E. Adams
and
Luis Garcia-Carreras

Abstract

The Congo Basin is severely understudied compared to other tropical regions; this is partly due to the lack of meteorological stations and the ubiquitous cloudiness hampering the use of remote sensing products. Clustering of small-scale agricultural deforestation events within the basin may result in deforestation on scales that are atmospherically important. This study uses 500-m MODIS data and the Global Forest Change dataset (GFC) to detect deforestation at a monthly and subkilometer scale and to quantify how deforestation impacts vegetation proxies (VPs) within the basin, the time scales over which these changes persist, and how they are affected by the deforestation driver. Missing MODIS data meant that a new method, based on two-date image differencing, was developed to detect deforestation on a monthly scale. Evaluation against the yearly GFC data shows that the highest detection rate was 79% for clearing sizes larger than 500 m2. Recovery to predeforestation levels occurred faster than expected; analysis of postdeforestation evolution of the VPs found 66% of locations recovered within a year. Separation by land-cover type also showed unexpected regrowth, as over 50% of rural complex and plantation land recovered within a year. The fallow period in the study region was typically short; by the sixth year after the initial deforestation event, ∼88% of the locations underwent a further considerable drop. These results show the importance of fine spatial and temporal information to assess Congo Basin deforestation and highlight the large differences in the impacts of land-use change compared to other rain forests.

Open access
Adrienne M. Wootten
,
Elinor Martin
,
Charles R. Randklev
, and
Ryan Smith

Abstract

Riverine ecosystems are dependent in large part on the climate of the region, and climate change is expected to alter climatic factors of interest, such as precipitation, temperature, and evapotranspiration. In central Texas, precipitation is expected to decrease while temperature increases as the climate changes. Drought and flooding events are also expected to increase in the region, which will also affect streamflow and stream temperature in riverine ecosystems. Numerous studies have assessed the potential impacts of climate change on riverine species. This study examines the projected climate changes, determines potential changes in streamflow and stream temperature for river basins in central Texas, and assesses the appropriate uses of climate projections for riverine species impact assessments, using the Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteata) as a case study. Previously established regression methods were used to produce projections of streamflow and stream temperature. This study finds that streamflow is projected to decrease and stream temperature is projected to increase. Using thermal tolerance thresholds previously determined for the Lampsilis bracteata, this study also finds that the lethal temperature events for the Lampsilis bracteata will increase. This study makes several recommendations on the use of downscaled climate projections for impact assessments for riverine species such as the Lampsilis bracteata.

Open access
Vasubandhu Misra
,
Shubham Dixit
, and
C. B. Jayasankar

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce a novel strategy to robustly diagnose the onset and demise of the rainy season using daily observed rainfall over seven specific regions across Australia, as demarcated by the Natural Resource Management (NRM) agency of Australia. The methodology lies in developing an ensemble spread of the diagnosed onset and demise from randomly perturbing the observed daily time series of rainfall at synoptic scales to obtain a measure of the uncertainty of the diagnosis. Our results indicate that the spread of the ensemble in the diagnosis of the onset and demise dates of the rainy season is higher in the subtropical region than the tropical region. Secular change of earlier onset, later demise, longer length, and wetter season are also identified in many of these regions. The influence of the PDO at decadal scale, ENSO and Indian Ocean dipole at interannual scale, and MJO at intraseasonal scale also reveals significant influence on the evolution of the rainy season over these regions in Australia. Most important, the covariability of the onset date with the length of the season and seasonal rainfall anomaly of the season is highlighted as a valuable relationship that can be exploited for real-time monitoring and providing an outlook of the forthcoming rainy season, which could serve some of the NRM regions.

Significance Statement

We document the rainfall variability during the rainy season over tropical, subtropical, and semiarid regions of Australia and relate them to modes of climate variability spanning from intraseasonal to secular time scales. The study highlights the varied influence of the modes of climate variability on various aspects of the evolution of the rainy season, such as its onset and demise dates and the seasonal rainfall anomaly over these Australian regions. The study uses 114 years of data and shows that the variations in the length of the rainy season and its seasonal rainfall anomaly are strongly dictated by variations of rainy-season onset date. This provides a quick seasonal outlook of the forthcoming rainy season by just monitoring the onset-date evolution in these regions.

Open access
Abdulghani Swesi
,
Yusri Yusup
,
Mardiana Idayu Ahmad
,
Haitem M. Almdhun
,
Ehsan Jolous Jamshidi
,
Muhammad Fikri Sigid
,
Anis Ibrahim
, and
John Stephen Kayode

Abstract

Carbon dioxide (CO2) flux from Earth’s surface is a critical component of the global carbon budget, and the ocean surface is a significant CO2 source and sink. The tropical coast absorbs CO2 due to phytoplankton abundance and the all-year availability of photosynthetically active radiation. However, the role of the tropical coastal ocean in the global carbon budget is uncertain because of its underrepresentation in the literature. This study is the first to describe the variations of long-term CO2 flux in the tropical coast on monthly and annual scales using the eddy covariance method and remote sensing data. The 5-yr average of the CO2 flux is −0.089 ± 0.024 mmol m−2 day−1, which indicates that it is a moderate carbon sink. The results show that the CO2 flux varied seasonally: the fall transitional, southwest, spring transitional, and northeast monsoons partitioned the flux into three phases: increasing, stable, and decreasing. The rising and falling stages can be identified by the erratic behavior of the flux, whereas the stable phase’s fluxes were relatively constant. The environmental parameters that regulated CO2 flux were chlorophyll a, sea surface temperatures, wind, and atmospheric stability, which modulated the CO2 flux on the monthly time scale. Wavelet analysis corroborated the finding and revealed the role of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) on CO2 flux through El Niño–Southern Oscillation. On the monthly time scale, sea surface temperature only slightly affected the fluxes, unlike chlorophyll a, but temperature’s control on the flux became more apparent on the yearly time scale. These findings help us to understand the monthly and yearly controls of CO2 flux and could contribute to developing models for predicting the flux on the tropical coast.

Open access
John C. Risley
and
Christian Zammit

Abstract

Air temperature and precipitation outputs from 10 CMIP6 GCMs were input to the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System hydrologic model to evaluate water and energy responses in three headwater basins to projected climate change over the twenty-first century. The headwater basins (398–801 km2) are located within the Mataura River basin in the South Island of New Zealand. CMIP6 datasets included two emission scenarios [shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5]. Half of the 10 GCMs selected in the study have equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) values above 4.5°C, which has been considered the upper end of equilibrium climate sensitivity. Modeling results included increased annual air temperature, evapotranspiration, and precipitation by the end of the twenty-first century for both SSP emissions scenarios, both high- and low-ECS GCMs, and all three headwater basins. Monthly precipitation and evapotranspiration totals also increased for all or most months. Monthly streamflow changes generally corresponded with monthly precipitation changes. Snowpack decreased significantly in depth and seasonal duration in all basins. However, streamflow increased for all SSP and ECS groups and basins because increased precipitation was consistently greater than increased evapotranspiration losses. Sources of uncertainty include the GCMs, climate sensitivity, downscaling, bias adjustment, emission scenarios, and the hydrologic model. Simulated hydrologic responses based on climate data from GCMs with ECS values of greater than 4.5°C could be less plausible since previous studies have suggested true ECS ranges from 1.5° to 4.5°C.

Open access
Shannon A. Nelson
and
Paul W. Miller

Abstract

Despite prompting persistent meteorological changes, severe defoliation following a tropical cyclone (TC) landfall has received relatively little attention and is largely overlooked within hurricane preparedness and recovery planning. Changes to near-track vegetation can modify evapotranspiration for months after tropical cyclone passage, thereby altering boundary layer moisture and energy fluxes that drive the local water cycle. This study seeks to understand potential spatial and temporal changes in defoliation-driven meteorological conditions using Hurricane Michael (2018) as a testbed. In this sensitivity study, two Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations, a normal-landscape and a post-TC scenario, are compared to determine how a defoliation scar placed along Michael’s path alters surface heat fluxes, temperature, relative humidity, and precipitation near the storm’s track. In the month following the foliage reduction, WRF resolves a 0.7°C 2-m temperature increase, with the greatest changes occurring at night. Meanwhile, the simulations produce changes to the sensible and latent heat fluxes of +8.3 and −13.9 W m−2, respectively, while average relative humidity decreases from 73% to 70.1%. Although the accumulated precipitation in the defoliated simulation was larger along a narrow corridor paralleling and downwind of the hurricane track, neither simulation satisfactorily replicated post-Michael precipitation patterns as recorded by NCEP Stage IV QPE, casting doubt as to whether the downwind enhancement was exclusively due to the defoliation scar. This sensitivity analysis provides insight into the types of changes that may be possible following rapid and widespread defoliation during a TC landfall.

Open access
Samuel E. Muñoz
,
Brynnydd Hamilton
, and
B. Parazin

Abstract

The Mississippi River basin drains nearly one-half of the contiguous United States, and its rivers serve as economic corridors that facilitate trade and transportation. Flooding remains a perennial hazard on the major tributaries of the Mississippi River basin, and reducing the economic and humanitarian consequences of these events depends on improving their seasonal predictability. Here, we use climate reanalysis and river gauge data to document the evolution of floods on the Missouri and Ohio Rivers—the two largest tributaries of the Mississippi River—and how they are influenced by major modes of climate variability centered in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. We show that the largest floods on these tributaries are preceded by the advection and convergence of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico following distinct atmospheric mechanisms, where Missouri River floods are associated with heavy spring and summer precipitation events delivered by the Great Plains low-level jet, whereas Ohio River floods are associated with frontal precipitation events in winter when the North Atlantic subtropical high is anomalously strong. Further, we demonstrate that the El Niño–Southern Oscillation can serve as a precursor for floods on these rivers by mediating antecedent soil moisture, with Missouri River floods often preceded by a warm eastern tropical Pacific (El Niño) and Ohio River floods often preceded by a cool eastern tropical Pacific (La Niña) in the months leading up peak discharge. We also use recent floods in 2019 and 2021 to demonstrate how linking flood hazard to sea surface temperature anomalies holds potential to improve seasonal predictability of hydrologic extremes on these rivers.

Open access