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Yujun Wang
,
Hongbo Yang
,
Vanessa Hull
,
Jindong Zhang
,
Xiaodong Chen
,
Xiang Li
,
Zejun Zhang
,
Cheng Li
,
Fang Wang
,
Zhiqiang Zhao
,
Ying Tang
, and
Jianguo Liu

Abstract

The effects of various strategies aimed at simultaneously promoting environmental conservation and human development are closely related to sustainable development regionally and globally. However, although the effects of many such strategies have been evaluated by ecologists and sociologists separately, their ability to simultaneously meet these two anticipated goals (i.e., environmental conservation and human development) at the fine spatial scale remains unclear. To answer this fundamental but crucial question, incorporating household and forest change data, we concurrently estimated the ecological and socioeconomic effects of two world-renowned Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs (i.e., the Nature Forest Conservation Program, the Grain to Green Program) and nature-based tourism in 30 protected areas across 8 provinces in China. Here we showed a trade-off between the ecological and economic effects of two PES programs, while synergistic effects exist in the ecological and economic benefits of tourism. Attributes of household and protected areas significantly influenced economic and environmental benefits as well. Our research provides new insights into the complex effects of PES programs and tourism, and crucial information to support their adequate and sustainable implementation in China and the rest of the world.

Significance Statement

This work answers a fundamental but crucial question, that is, whether the policies commonly advocated to incorporate environmental conservation and human development can yield positive effects both for conservation and economic development. Our evaluation is also timely to inform some shortness (i.e., negligible economic effects, or the lack of expected positive economic benefits) and provides new insights (e.g., the implication of households and protected-areas attributes in conservation and economic outcomes) of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs and the complex effects of instruments in the context of multiple policies, particularly given the upcoming 2030 deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). We expected that implications in this study can provide important lessons for these two instruments, other PES programs, and other conservation and development instruments to support their adequate and sustainable implementation in China and beyond and to contribute to the achievement of relevant SDGs in the remaining years.

Open access
Jonathan B. Butcher
,
Mark Fernandez
,
Thomas E. Johnson
,
Afshin Shabani
, and
Sylvia S. Lee

Abstract

Cyanobacteria blooms are an increasing concern in U.S. freshwaters. Such blooms can produce nuisance conditions, deplete oxygen, and alter the food chain, and in some cases they may produce potent toxins, although many factors may modulate the relationships between biomass and toxin production. Cyanobacterial blooms are in turn associated with nutrient enrichment and warm water temperatures. Climate change is expected to increase water temperatures and, in many areas, surface runoff that can transport nutrient loads to lakes. While some progress has been made in short-term prediction of cyanobacterial bloom and toxin risk, the long-term projections of which lakes will become more vulnerable to such events as a result of climate change is less clear because of the complex interaction of multiple factors that affect bloom probability. We address this question by reviewing the literature to identify risk factors that increase lake vulnerability to cyanobacterial blooms and evaluating how climate change may alter these factors across the sample of conterminous U.S. lakes contained in the 2007 National Lakes Assessment. Results provide a national-scale assessment of where and in which types of lakes climate change will likely increase the overall risk of cyanobacterial blooms, rather than finer-scale prediction of expected cyanobacterial and toxin levels in individual lakes. This information can be used to guide climate change adaptation planning, including monitoring and management efforts to minimize the effects of increased cyanobacterial prevalence.

Significance Statement

Cyanobacteria blooms and associated algal toxins are an increasing problem in U.S. freshwater lakes and reservoirs. Climate change may further increase bloom frequency and severity. We survey the literature on relationships between bloom formation and climate. These relationships are combined with projections of future climate and lake response to develop indices of where and in what types of lakes such blooms are most likely to increase relative to current conditions. The results can help to focus monitoring and management measures to mitigate potential impacts on human health, wildlife, and aquatic biota.

Open access
Amy S. Hendricks
,
Uma S. Bhatt
,
Gerald V. Frost
,
Donald A. Walker
,
Peter A. Bieniek
,
Martha K. Raynolds
,
Rick T. Lader
,
Howard E. Epstein
,
Jorge E. Pinzon
,
Compton J. Tucker
, and
Josefino C. Comiso

Abstract

Rapidly warming temperatures in the Arctic are driving increasing tundra vegetation productivity, evidenced in both the satellite derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) imagery and field studies. These trends, however, are not uniformly positive across the circumpolar Arctic. One notable region of negative linear NDVI trends that have persisted over the last 15 years is southwest Alaska’s Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta (YKD). Negative NDVI trends in the YKD region appear inconsistent with our understanding since tundra vegetation is temperature-limited and air temperatures have increased on the YKD. Analysis over a 40-yr record from 1982 to 2021 reveals distinct decadal variability in the NDVI time series, which continues to produce negative linear trends. Similar decadal variability is also evident in summer warmth and 100-km coastal zone spring sea ice concentrations. This suggests that decadal climate variations can dominate the trends of NDVI through their influence on the drivers of tundra vegetation, namely, coastal sea ice concentrations and summer warmth. The relationships among sea ice, summer warmth, and NDVI have changed over the 40-yr record. Seasonality analysis since 1982 shows declining sea ice concentration in spring is followed by trends of increasing temperatures, but weakly declining NDVI during the growing season. An additional key finding is that since early 2010s, the relationships between sea ice concentration and summer warmth, and sea ice concentration and NDVI have strengthened, while the relationship between NDVI and summer warmth has weakened, indicating that temperature may no longer be the primary limiting factor for Arctic tundra vegetation on the YKD.

Significance Statement

This paper addresses a curiosity of regional Arctic climate change, which is that despite increasing temperatures, spatially and temporally declining trends of vegetation productivity on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta appear in satellite data. This study bridges our understanding of Arctic climate relationships at varying scales and informs questions about how these relationships may change in the future.

Open access
Natalya Kilifarska
,
Tsvetelina Velichkova
, and
Antonia Mokreva

Abstract

Analyses of the Northern Hemisphere’s sea level pressure, air surface temperature, and lower-stratospheric ozone during the period 1900–2019 reveal an existing coherence in their temporal variability. The coherence is heterogeneously distributed over the globe, and the patterns of ozone impact on the pressure and temperature are different. More specifically, the strongest ozone influence on the sea level pressure is found in the main “centers of action”—that is, the Aleutian low and the region of NAO formation. The ozone influence is localized mainly in the latitudinal belt 40°–75°N, where the ozone mixing ratio at 70 hPa is reduced during most of the twentieth century (relative to the first decade of the twenty-first century). This peculiarity of ozone spatial distribution we attribute to the energetic particles trapped in Earth’s radiation belts, activating ion-molecular reactions of ozone production in the region of Regener–Pfotzer ionization maximum. Consequently, the spatial–temporal variations of the lower-atmospheric ionization could be a good explanation for irregularly distributed ozone and its regionally specified impact on the climatic variables.

Significance Statement

We tried to understand the regional character of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter weather conditions. The latter is usually attributed to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), but we actually do not know the factors impacting the NAO variability itself. We found that, at multiannual time scales, the surface pressure is only weakly related to the temperature variations, whereas its correlation with the ozone at 70 hPa is unexpectedly strong—especially in the active regions of the weather phenomena formation. We attribute the ozone variability itself to the variable intensity of energetic particles precipitating in the lower atmosphere—where they activate ion-molecular reactions producing ozone. This finding opens new horizons for understanding the regionality of atmospheric variation at different time scales.

Open access
Greta E. M. Shum
,
Marysa M. Laguë
,
Stephanie S. Rushley
, and
Abigail L. S. Swann

Abstract

We explore the possible role of plant–atmosphere feedbacks in accelerating forest expansion using a simple example of forest establishment. We use an unconventional experimental design to simulate an initial forest establishment and the subsequent response of climate and nearby vegetation. We find that the forest’s existence produces favorable nearby growing-season conditions that would promote forest expansion. Specifically, we consider a hypothetical region of forest expansion in modern Alaska. We find that the forest acts as a source of heat and moisture for plants to the west, leading them to experience earlier springtime temperatures, snowmelt, and growth. Summertime cooling and cloud formation over the forest also drive a circulation change that reduces summertime cloud cover south of the forest, increasing solar radiation reaching plants there and driving warming. By isolating these vegetation–atmosphere interactions as the mechanisms of increased growth, we demonstrate the potential for forest expansion to be accelerated in a way that has not been highlighted before. These simulations illuminate two separate mechanisms that lead to increased plant growth nearby: 1) springtime heat advection and 2) summertime cloud feedbacks and circulation changes; both have implications for our understanding of past changes in forest cover and the predictability of biophysical impacts from afforestation projects and climate change–driven forest-cover changes. By examining these feedbacks, we seek to gain a more comprehensive understanding of past and potential future land–atmosphere interactions.

Significance Statement

This study investigates whether the emergence of a high-latitude forest could influence the way water and energy are exchanged between the land and atmosphere in a way that impacts nearby growing conditions and subsequent forest expansion. We use a computer model to simulate a climate with and without forest establishment in the high latitudes and test the response of plants surrounding the forest to the two different climates. We find that a forest is indeed able to spur neighboring plant growth by modifying regional climate and producing more favorable growing conditions for surrounding vegetation. Specifically, forest establishment can bring better growing conditions to plants adjacent to it by warming the air and altering nearby circulation and cloud cover.

Open access
Felicia Chiang
,
Benjamin I. Cook
, and
Sonali McDermid

Abstract

The moderating influence of irrigation on dry heat extremes is well established, but the effect of irrigation on humid heat is more uncertain. Here, we study the impact of modern irrigation on both dry and humid heat-wave occurrences during the boreal summer using the NASA GISS Earth System Model (ModelE) with and without present-day irrigation. We show that the presence of modern irrigation reduces the total number of dry heat waves in most land areas, especially in arid and temperate regions. In contrast, humid heat waves occur more frequently under modern irrigation, especially in the Mediterranean Sea region, northern Africa, southern Africa, and the Middle East. Present-day irrigation reduces dry heat extremes by favoring latent heating over sensible heating and lowering surface solar radiation by increasing total cloud cover. Meanwhile, modern irrigation drives increases in humid heat through increases in specific humidity and precipitation. Notably, the reduction in dry heat is mostly localized over irrigated grid cells while humid heat increases both in locally irrigated areas and remote (nonirrigated) regions because of widespread increases in humidity associated with irrigation. Our results suggest that irrigation may amplify humid heat, even in nonirrigated areas, highlighting the importance of improving our understanding of both local and remote effects of the irrigation forcing on climate hazards.

Open access
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