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Analyzing precipitationsheds to understand the vulnerability of rainfall dependent regions
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm Environment Institute. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.
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2012 (English)In: Biogeosciences, ISSN 1726-4170, E-ISSN 1726-4189, Vol. 9, no 2, 733-746 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It is well known that rivers connect upstream and downstream ecosystems within watersheds. Here we describe the concept of precipitationsheds to show how upwind terrestrial evaporation source areas contribute moisture for precipitation to downwind sink regions. We illustrate the importance of upwind land cover in precipitationsheds to sustain precipitation in critically water stressed downwind areas, specifically dryland agricultural areas. We first identify seven regions where rainfed agriculture is particularly vulnerable to reductions in precipitation, and then map their precipitationsheds. We then develop a framework for qualitatively assessing the vulnerability of precipitation for these seven agricultural regions. We illustrate that the sink regions have varying degrees of vulnerability to changes in upwind evaporation rates depending on the extent of the precipitationshed, source region land use intensity and expected land cover changes in the source region.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 9, no 2, 733-746 p.
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-70026DOI: 10.5194/bg-9-733-2012ISI: 000300877400009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-70026DiVA: diva2:478682
Note

6

Available from: 2012-01-16 Created: 2012-01-16 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Precipitationshed: Concepts, Methods, and Applications
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Precipitationshed: Concepts, Methods, and Applications
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Human societies are reliant on the functioning of the hydrologic cycle. The atmospheric branch of this cycle, often referred to as moisture recycling in the context of land-to-land exchange, refers to water evaporating, traveling through the atmosphere, and falling out as precipitation. Similar to the surface water cycle that uses the watershed as the unit of analysis, it is also possible to consider a ‘watershed of the sky’ for the atmospheric water cycle. Thus, I explore the precipitationshed - defined as the upwind surface of the Earth that provides evaporation that later falls as precipitation in a specific place. The primary contributions of this dissertation are to (a) introduce the precipitationshed concept, (b) provide a quantitative basis for the study of the precipitationshed, and (c) demonstrate its use in the fields of hydrometeorology, land-use change, social-ecological systems, ecosystem services, and environmental governance.

In Paper I, the concept of the precipitationshed is introduced and explored for the first time. The quantification of precipitationshed variability is described in Paper II, and the key finding is that the precipitationsheds for multiple regions are persistent in time and space. Moisture recycling is further described as an ecosystem service in Paper III, to integrate the concept into the existing language of environmental sustainability and management. That is, I identify regions where vegetation more strongly regulates the provision of atmospheric water, as well as the regions that more strongly benefit from this regulation. In Paper IV, the precipitationshed is further explored through the lens of urban reliance on moisture recycling. Using a novel method, I quantify the vulnerability of urban areas to social-ecological changes within their precipitationsheds. In Paper V, I argue that successful moisture recycling governance will require flexible, transboundary institutions that are capable of operating within complex social-ecological systems. I conclude that, in the future, the precipitationshed can be a key tool in addressing the complexity of social-ecological systems. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2016. 54 p.
Keyword
water, atmosphere, precipitationshed, moisture recycling, variability, ecosystem services, social-ecological systems
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132375 (URN)978-91-7649-464-6 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2016-09-29, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2016-09-06 Created: 2016-08-11 Last updated: 2016-08-25Bibliographically approved

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