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John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis

Powell Center Products

Hydrological, Physical, and Chemical Functions and Connectivity of Non‐Floodplain Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review

Powell Center Working Group Products - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 13:57

We reviewed the scientific literature on non‐floodplain wetlands (NFWs), freshwater wetlands typically located distal to riparian and floodplain systems, to determine hydrological, physical, and chemical functioning and stream and river network connectivity. We assayed the literature for source, sink, lag, and transformation functions, as well as factors affecting connectivity. We determined NFWs are important landscape components, hydrologically, physically, and chemically affecting downstream aquatic systems. NFWs are hydrologic and chemical sources for other waters, hydrologically connecting across long distances and contributing compounds such as methylated mercury and dissolved organic matter. NFWs reduced flood peaks and maintained baseflows in stream and river networks through hydrologic lag and sink functions, and sequestered or assimilated substantial nutrient inputs through chemical sink and transformative functions. Landscape‐scale connectivity of NFWs affects water and material fluxes to downstream river networks, substantially modifying the characteristics and function of downstream waters. Many factors determine the effects of NFW hydrological, physical, and chemical functions on downstream systems, and additional research quantifying these factors and impacts is warranted. We conclude NFWs are hydrologically, chemically, and physically interconnected with stream and river networks though this connectivity varies in frequency, duration, magnitude, and timing.

Candidate Products for Operational Earthquake Forecasting Illustrated Using the HayWired Planning Scenario, Including One Very Quick (and Not‐So‐Dirty) Hazard‐Map Option

Powell Center Working Group Products - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 09:56

In an effort to help address debates on the usefulness of operational earthquake forecasting (OEF), we illustrate a number of OEF products that could be automatically generated in near‐real time. To exemplify, we use an MM 7.1 mainshock on the Hayward fault, which is very similar to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) HayWired earthquake planning scenario. Given that there is always some background level of hazard or risk, we emphasize that probability gains (the ratio of short‐term to long‐term‐average estimates) might be of particular interest to users. We also illustrate how such gains are highly sensitive to forecast duration and latency, with the latter representing how long it takes to generate the forecast and/or to take action. The influence of fault‐based information, which has traditionally been ignored in OEF, is also evaluated using the newly developed the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast epidemic‐type aftershock sequence (UCERF3‐ETAS) model. We find that the inclusion of faults only makes a difference for hazard and risk metrics that are dominated by large‐event likelihoods. We also show how the ShakeMap of a mainshock represents a decent estimate of the ground motions that have a 6% chance of being exceeded due to aftershocks in the week that follows. The ultimate value of these types of OEF products can only be determined in the context of specific uses, and because these vary widely, institutions responsible for providing OEF products will depend heavily on user feedback, especially when making resource‐allocation decisions.

How Might Recharge Change Under Projected Climate Change in the Western U.S.?

Powell Center Working Group Products - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:42
Although groundwater is a major water resource in the western U.S., little research has been done on the impacts of climate change on groundwater storage and recharge in the West. Here we assess the impact of projected changes in climate on groundwater recharge in the near (2021-2050) and far (2071-2100) future across the western U.S. Variable Infiltration Capacity model was run with RCP 6.0 forcing from 11 global climate models and “subsurface runoff” output was considered as recharge. Recharge is expected to decrease in the West (-5.8 ± 14.3%) and Southwest (-4.0 ± 6.7%) regions in the near future and in the South region (-9.5 ± 24.3%) in the far future. The Northern Rockies region is expected to get more recharge in the near (+5.3 ± 9.2%) and far (+11.8 ± 12.3%) future. Overall, southern portions of the western U.S. are expected to get less recharge in the future and northern portions will get more. Climate change interacts with land surface properties to affect the amount of recharge that occurs in the future. Effects on recharge due to change in vegetation response from projected changes in climate and CO2 concentration, though important, are not considered in this study.

Operationalizing the telecoupling framework for migratory species using the spatial subsidies approach to examine ecosystem services provided by Mexican free-tailed bats

Powell Center Working Group Products - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 12:42
Drivers of environmental change in one location can have profound effects on ecosystem services and human well-being in distant locations, often across international borders. The telecoupling provides a conceptual framework for describing these interactions-for example, locations can be defined as sending areas (sources of flows of ecosystem services, energy, or information) or receiving areas (recipients of flows). However, the ability to quantify feedbacks between ecosystem change in one area and societal benefits in other areas requires analytical approaches. We use spatial subsidie-an approach developed to measure the degree to which a migratory species’ ability to provide services in one location depends on habitat in another location-as an example of how telecoupling can be operationalized. Using the cotton pest control and ecotourism services of Mexican free-tailed bats as an example, we determined that of the 16 states in the United States and Mexico where the species resides, three states (Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado) are receiving areas, while the rest of the states are sending areas. In addition, the magnitude of spatial subsidy can be used as an indicator of the degree to which different locations are telecoupled to other locations. In this example, the Mexican free-tailed bat ecosystem services to cotton production and ecotourism in Texas and New Mexico are heavily dependent on winter habitat in four states in central and southern Mexico. In sum, spatial subsidies can be used to operationalize the telecoupling conceptual framework by identifying sending and receiving areas, and by indicating the degree to which locations are telecoupled to other locations.

Ecosystem services from transborder migratory species: Implications for conservation governance

Powell Center Working Group Products - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 12:29
This article discusses the conservation challenges of volant migratory transborder species and conservation governance primarily in North America. Many migratory species provide ecosystem service benefits to society. For example, insectivorous bats prey on crop pests and reduce the need for pesticides; birds and insects pollinate food plants; and birds afford recreational opportunities to hunters and birdwatchers. Migration is driven by the seasonal availability of resources; as resources in one area become seasonally scarce, individuals move to locations where resources have become seasonally abundant. The separation of the annual lifecycle means that species management and governance is often fractured across international borders. Because migratory species depend on habitat in different locations, their ability to provide ecosystem services in one area depends on the spatial subsidies, or support, provided by habitat and ecological processes in other areas. This creates telecouplings, or interconnections across geographic space, of areas such that impacts to the habitat of a migratory species in one location will affect the benefits enjoyed by people in other locations. Information about telecoupling and spatial subsidies can be used to craft new governance arrangements such as Payment for Ecosystem Services programs that target specific stakeholder groups and locations. We illustrate these challenges and opportunities with three North American case studies: the Duck Stamp Program, Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana), and monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus).

Recreation economics to inform migratory species conservation: Case study of the northern pintail.

Powell Center Working Group Products - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 12:12
Quantification of the economic value provided by migratory species can aid in targeting management efforts and funding to locations yielding the greatest benefits to society and species conservation. Here we illustrate a key step in this process by estimating hunting and birding values of the northern pintail (Anas acuta) within primary breeding and wintering habitats used during the species' annual migratory cycle in North America. We used published information on user expenditures and net economic values (consumer surplus) for recreational viewing and hunting to determine the economic value of pintail-based recreation in three primary breeding areas and two primary wintering areas. Summed expenditures and consumer surplus for northern pintail viewing were annually valued at $70M, and annual sport hunting totaled $31M (2014 USD). Expenditures for viewing ($42M) were more than twice as high than those for hunting ($18M). Estimates of consumer surplus, defined as the amount consumers are willing to pay above their current expenditures, were $15M greater for viewing ($28M) than for hunting ($13M). We discovered substantial annual consumer surplus ($41M) available for pintail conservation from birders and hunters. We also found spatial differences in economic value among the primary regions used by pintails, with viewing generally valued more in breeding regions than in wintering regions and the reverse being true for hunting. The economic value of pintail-based recreation in the Western wintering region ($26M) exceeded that in any other region by at least a factor of three. Our approach of developing regionally explicit economic values can be extended to other taxonomic groups, and is particularly suitable for migratory game birds because of the availability of large amounts of data. When combined with habitat-linked population models, regionally explicit values could inform development of more effective conservation finance and policy mechanisms to enhance environmental management and societal benefits across the geographically dispersed areas used by migratory species.

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