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Lade, S., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Staal, A., Rocha, J.. 2021. Empirical pressure-response relations can benefit assessment of safe operating spaces. Nature Ecology & Evolution. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01481-5
In a recent study, Hillebrand et al. tested ecosystem pressure-response data from multiple meta-analyses for multimodality and changing variance, both indicators of ‘tipping point’ thresholds that lead to discontinuous responses such as regime shifts. They found that such thresholds were difficult to detect and argued that threshold and safe operating space concepts are therefore not suitable for environmental management and ...
Falkenmark, M., Wang-Erlandsson, L., 2021. One Earth, Volume 4, Issue 2, 19 February 2021, Pages 213-225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2021.01.009
The freshwater cycle over land is fundamental for sustainability and resilience, yet is extensively modified and shaped by a vast range of human interventions in the land, water, and climate systems. The consequences of human water-cycle modifications can be non-linear, delayed, and distributed across boundaries, sectors, and scale. This complexity renders freshwater challenges difficult to govern and manage. We here propose a...
Wang-Erlandsson, L., van der Ent, R., Staal, A., Porkka, M., Tobian, A., te Wierik, S., Fetzer, I., Singh, C., Jaramillo, F., Greve, P., Gerten, D., Keys, P., Dahlmann, H., Gleeson, T., Steffen, W., Cornell, S., and Rockström, J. 2021. Towards a green water planetary boundary, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13583, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13583, 2021.
Green water - soil moisture, evaporation, and precipitation over land - is fundamental to safeguard Earth system functioning. Nonlinear green-water driven changes in climate, ecosystems, biogeochemistry, and hydrology are becoming increasingly evident and widespread. Yet, considerations of continental to planetary scale green-water dynamics are yet to be assessed and incorporated in management and governance. Here, we propose...
Porkka, M., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Destouni, G., Ekman, A.M., Rockström, J. and Gordon, L.J., 2021. Is wetter better? Exploring agriculturally-relevant rainfall characteristics over four decades in the Sahel. Environmental Research Letters, 16(3), p.035002.
The semi-arid Sahel is a global hotspot for poverty and malnutrition. Rainfed agriculture is the main source of food and income, making the well-being of rural population highly sensitive to rainfall variability. Studies have reported an upward trend in annual precipitation in the Sahel since the drought of the 1970s and early '80s, yet farmers have questioned improvements in conditions for agriculture, suggesting that intras...
Journal / article
Gleeson, T., Wang‐Erlandsson, L., Porkka, M., Zipper, S.C., Jaramillo, F., Gerten, D., Fetzer, I., Cornell, S.E., Piemontese, L., Gordon, L.J. and Rockström, J., 2020. Illuminating water cycle modifications and Earth System resilience in the Anthropocene. Water Resources Research, 56(4), p.e2019WR024957
Fresh water—the bloodstream of the biosphere—is at the center of the planetary drama of the Anthropocene. Water fluxes and stores regulate the Earth's climate and are essential for thriving aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as water, food, and energy security. But the water cycle is also being modified by humans at an unprecedented scale and rate. A holistic understanding of freshwater's role for Earth system resilie...
Singh, C., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Fetzer, Rockström, J., et.al. 2020. Rootzone storage capacity reveals drought coping strategies along rainforest-savanna transitions. Environ. Res. Lett. 15 124021, https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abc377
Climate change and deforestation have increased the risk of drought-induced forest-to-savanna transitions across the tropics and subtropics. However, the present understanding of forest-savanna transitions is generally focused on the influence of rainfall and fire regime changes, but does not take into account the adaptability of vegetation to droughts by utilizing subsoil moisture in a quantifiable metric. Using rootzone stor...
Staal, A., Fetzer, I., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Bosmans, J.H.C., Dekker, S.C. et.al. 2020. Hysteresis of tropical forests in the 21st century. Nat Commun 11, 4978 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18728-7
Tropical forests modify the conditions they depend on through feedbacks at different spatial scales. These feedbacks shape the hysteresis (history-dependence) of tropical forests, thus controlling their resilience to deforestation and response to climate change. Here, we determine the emergent hysteresis from local-scale tipping points and regional-scale forest-rainfall feedbacks across the tropics under the recent climate and...
Zipper, S.C., Jaramillo, F., Erlandsson, L-W., Cornell, S.E., Gleeson, T., Poorka. M. 2020. Integrating the water planetary boundary with water management from local to global scales. Earth's Future, DOI: 10.1029/2019EF001377
The planetary boundaries framework defines the “safe operating space for humanity” represented by nine global processes that can destabilize the Earth System if perturbed. The water planetary boundary attempts to provide a global limit to anthropogenic water cycle modifications, but it has been challenging to translate and apply it to the regional and local scales at which water problems and management typically occur. We dev...
Journal / article
Keys, P.W., Porkka, M., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Fetzer, I., et.al. 2019. Invisible water security: Moisture recycling and water resilience. Water Security Volume 8, December 2019, 100046
Water security is key to planetary resilience for human society to flourish in the face of global change. Atmospheric moisture recycling – the process of water evaporating from land, flowing through the atmosphere, and falling out again as precipitation over land – is the invisible mechanism by which water influences resilience, that is the capacity to persist, adapt, and transform. Through land-use change, mainly by agricultu...
Bjørn, A., Sim, S., King, H., Keys, P., Erlandsson, L-W., Cornell, S.E. et.al. 2019. Challenges and opportunities towards improved application of the planetary boundary for land-system change in life cycle assessment of products. Science of The Total Environment Volume 696, 15 December 2019, 133964
Life cycle assessment (LCA) can be used to translate the planetary boundaries (PBs) concept to the scale of decisions related to products. Existing PB-LCA methods convert quantified resource use and emissions to changes in the values of PB control variables. However, the control variable for the Land-system change PB, “area of forested land remaining”, is not suitable for use in LCA, since it is expressed at the beginning of a...
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