For publications earlier than 2019, view our publications archive.
|Z. Burivalova,; Hart, S. J.; Radeloff, V. C.; Srinivasan, U.: Early warning sign of forest loss in protected areas. In: Current Biology, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
As humanity is facing the double challenge of species extinctions and climate change, designating parts of forests as protected areas is a key conservation strategy.1, 2, 3, 4 Protected areas, encompassing 14.9% of the Earth’s land surface and 19% of global forests, can prevent forest loss but do not do so perfectly everywhere.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 The reasons why protection only works in some areas are difficult to generalize: older and newer parks, protected areas with higher and lower suitability for agriculture, and more and less strict protection can be more effective at preventing forest loss than their counterparts.6,8,9,12, 13, 14, 15, 16 Yet predicting future forest loss within protected areas is crucial to proactive conservation. Here, we identify an early warning sign of subsequent forest loss, based on forest loss patterns in strict protected areas and their surrounding landscape worldwide, from 2000 to 2018.17,18 We found that a low level in the absolute forest cover immediately outside of a protected area signals a high risk of future forest loss inside the protected area itself. When the amount of forest left outside drops to <20%, the protected area is likely to experience rates of forest loss matching those in the wider landscape, regardless of its protection status (e.g., 5% loss outside will be matched by 5% loss inside). This knowledge could be used to direct funding to protected areas threatened by imminent forest loss, helping to proactively bolster protection to prevent forest loss, especially in countries where detailed information is lacking.
| Holloway, T.; Miller, D.; Anenberg, S.; Diao, M.; Duncan, B.; Fiore, A. M.; Henze, D. K.; Hess, J.; Kinney, P. L.; Liu, Y.; Neu, J. L.; O'Neill, S. M.; Odman, M. Talat; Pierce, R. B.; Russell, A. G.; Tong, D.; West, J. J.; Zondlo, M. A.: Satellite Monitoring for Air Quality and Health. In: Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science, 4 , pp. 417-447, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Data from satellite instruments provide estimates of gas and particle levels relevant to human health, even pollutants invisible to the human eye. However, the successful interpretation of satellite data requires an understanding of how satellites relate to other data sources, as well as factors affecting their application to health challenges. Drawing from the expertise and experience of the 2016–2020 NASA HAQAST (Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team), we present a review of satellite data for air quality and health applications. We include a discussion of satellite data for epidemiological studies and health impact assessments, as well as the use of satellite data to evaluate air quality trends, support air quality regulation, characterize smoke from wildfires, and quantify emission sources. The primary advantage of satellite data compared to in situ measurements, e.g., from air quality monitoring stations, is their spatial coverage. Satellite data can reveal where pollution levels are highest around the world, how levels have changed over daily to decadal periods, and where pollutants are transported from urban to global scales. To date, air quality and health applications have primarily utilized satellite observations and satellite-derived products relevant to near-surface particulate matter <2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Health and air quality communities have grown increasingly engaged in the use of satellite data, and this trend is expected to continue. From health researchers to air quality managers, and from global applications to community impacts, satellite data are transforming the way air pollution exposure is evaluated.
| Edwards, Morgan R.; Giang, Amanda; Macey, Gregg P.; Magavi, Zeyneb; Nicholas, Dominic; Ackley, Robert; Schulman, Audrey: Repair Failures Call for New Policies to Tackle Leaky Natural Gas Distribution Systems. In: Environmental Science & Technology, 55 (10), pp. 6561-6570, 2021, ISSN: 0013-936X. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Jung, Suhyun; Dyngeland, Cecilie; Rausch, Lisa; Rasmussen, Laura Vang: Brazilian Land Registry Impacts on Land Use Conversion. In: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, n/a (n/a), 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Voluntary land registries can affect land use by facilitating both the public's ability to monitor land use and farmers' access to credit. We estimate the impacts of participation in a land registry on the conversion of natural vegetation to agricultural land use by examining the impacts of the rural environmental registry (CAR) in Brazil, using a dynamic land use model. We show that although participation in the CAR does not significantly affect crop area, it does influence pasture expansion, with variation by farm size and environmental compliance level. Our results provide insights for agricultural land-use policies by illuminating how the intended environmental objectives of land registry programs might be undermined by credit policies.
| Plowright, Raina K; Reaser, Jamie K; Locke, Harvey; Woodley, Stephen J; Patz, Jonathan A; Becker, Daniel J; Oppler, Gabriel; Hudson, Peter J; Tabor, Gary M: Land use-induced spillover: a call to action to safeguard environmental, animal, and human health. In: The Lancet Planetary Health, 5 (4), pp. e237-e245, 2021, ISSN: 2542-5196. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
The rapid global spread and human health impacts of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, show humanity's vulnerability to zoonotic disease pandemics. Although anthropogenic land use change is known to be the major driver of zoonotic pathogen spillover from wildlife to human populations, the scientific underpinnings of land use-induced zoonotic spillover have rarely been investigated from the landscape perspective. We call for interdisciplinary collaborations to advance knowledge on land use implications for zoonotic disease emergence with a view toward informing the decisions needed to protect human health. In particular, we urge a mechanistic focus on the zoonotic pathogen infect–shed–spill–spread cascade to enable protection of landscape immunity—the ecological conditions that reduce the risk of pathogen spillover from reservoir hosts—as a conservation and biosecurity priority. Results are urgently needed to formulate an integrated, holistic set of science-based policy and management measures that effectively and cost-efficiently minimise zoonotic disease risk. We consider opportunities to better institute the necessary scientific collaboration, address primary technical challenges, and advance policy and management issues that warrant particular attention to effectively address health security from local to global scales.
| Rausch, Lisa L; Gibbs, Holly K: The Low Opportunity Costs of the Amazon Soy Moratorium. In: Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 4 , pp. 21, 2021, ISSN: 2624-893X. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Brazil’s Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM) contributed to overall reductions in Amazon deforestation since its implementation in 2006. Under the ASM, the Amazon soy sector maintains access to the growing share of the market that operates under zero-deforestation commitments. The ASM has been criticized as unfair to law-abiding producers. Only 1% of the approximately 14,000 soy farms in the Amazon Biome have soy-suitable, forested areas that could be deforested lawfully (49,273 ha). More than half of Amazon soy farms have soy-suitable areas that were deforested before 2008 and used for soy in 2019 (1.7 Mha). Taken together, these findings suggest that the opportunity costs of the ASM on current soy farms are low relative to the market access benefits.
| Cui, Ryna Yiyun; Hultman, Nathan; Cui, Diyang; McJeon, Haewon; Yu, Sha; Edwards, Morgan R.; Sen, Arijit; Song, Kaihui; Bowman, Christina; Clarke, Leon; Kang, Junjie; Lou, Jiehong; Yang, Fuqiang; Yuan, Jiahai; Zhang, Weirong; Zhu, Mengye: A plant-by-plant strategy for high-ambition coal power phaseout in China. In: Nature Communications, 12 (1), pp. 1468, 2021, ISSN: 2041-1723. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
More than half of current coal power capacity is in China. A key strategy for meeting China's 2060 carbon neutrality goal and the global 1.5 degrees C climate goal is to rapidly shift away from unabated coal use. Here we detail how to structure a high-ambition coal phaseout in China while balancing multiple national needs. We evaluate the 1037 currently operating coal plants based on comprehensive technical, economic and environmental criteria and develop a metric for prioritizing plants for early retirement. We find that 18 percent of plants consistently score poorly across all three criteria and are thus low-hanging fruits for rapid retirement. We develop plant-by-plant phaseout strategies for each province by combining our retirement algorithm with an integrated assessment model. With rapid retirement of the low-hanging fruits, other existing plants can operate with a 20- or 30-year minimum lifetime and gradually reduced utilization to achieve the 1.5 degrees C or well-below 2 degrees C climate goals, respectively, with complete phaseout by 2045 and 2055.
| Moore, Eli K; Kriesberg, Adam; Schroeder, Steven; Geil, Kerrie; Haugen, Inga; Barford, Carol; Johns, Erica M; Arthur, Dan; Sheffield, Megan; Ritchie, Stephanie M; Jackson, Carolyn; Parr, Cynthia: Agricultural data management and sharing: Best practices and case study. In: Agronomy Journal, n/a (n/a), 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Abstract Agricultural data are crucial to many aspects of production, commerce, and research involved in feeding the global community. However, in most agricultural research disciplines standard best practices for data management and publication do not exist. Here we propose a set of best practices in the areas of peer review, minimal dataset development, data repositories, citizen science initiatives, and support for best data management. We illustrate some of these best practices with a case study in dairy agroecosystems research. While many common, and increasingly disparate data management and publication practices are entrenched in agricultural disciplines, opportunities are readily available for promoting and adopting best practices that better enable and enhance data-intensive agricultural research and production.
| Amintas Brandão Jr., Jr.; Rausch, Lisa; Durán, América Paz; Ciniro Costa Jr., Jr.; 1, Seth A. Spawn; Gibbs, Holly K: Estimating the Potential for Conservation and Farming in the Amazon and Cerrado under Four Policy Scenarios. In: Sustainability, 12 (3), pp. 1277, 2021, ISSN: 2071-1050. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Since 2013, clearing rates have rapidly increased in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes. This acceleration has raised questions about the efficacy of current regional public and private conservation policies that seek to promote agricultural production while conserving remnants of natural vegetation. In this study, we assessed conservation and agricultural outcomes of four potential policy scenarios that represent perfect adherence to private sector, zero-deforestation commitments (i.e., the Amazon soy moratorium—ASM and the Amazon cattle agreements—CA) and to varying levels of implementation of the Brazilian Forest Code (FC). Under a zero-clearing scenario, we find that the extent of croplands as of 2017 within the two biomes (31 MHa) could double without further clearing if agriculture were to expand on all previously cleared land that is suitable for crops. Moreover, at least 47 MHa of land that is already cleared but unsuitable for crops would remain available for pasture. Under scenarios in which only legal clearing under the FC could occur, 51 MHa of additional natural vegetation could be cleared. This includes as many as 1 MHa of nonforest vegetation that could be cleared in the Amazon biome without triggering the ASM and CA monitoring systems. Two-thirds of the total vegetation vulnerable to legal clearing is located within the Cerrado biome, and 19 MHa of this land is suitable for cropland expansion. Legal clearing of all of these areas could reduce biodiversity persistence by 4% within the two biomes, when compared with the zero-clearing scenario, and release up to 9 PgCO2e, with the majority (75%) coming from the Cerrado biome. However, when we considered the potential outcomes of full implementation of the FC, we found that 22% (11 MHa) of the 51 MHa of vegetation subject to legal clearing could be protected through the environmental quotas market, while an additional 1 MHa should be replanted across the two biomes, predominantly in the Amazon biome (73% of the area subject to replanting). Together, quotas and replanting could prevent the release of 2 PgCO2e that would otherwise be emitted if all legal clearing occurred. Based on our results, we conclude that ongoing legal clearing could create additional space for cropland and cattle production beyond the substantial existing stocks of cleared areas but would significantly impair local carbon and biodiversity stocks.
| Burivalova, Zuzana; Purnomo,; Orndorff, Samantha; Truskinger, Anthony; Roe, Paul; Game, Edward T: The sound of logging: Tropical forest soundscape before, during, and after selective timber extraction. In: Biological Conservation, 254 , pp. 108812, 2021, ISSN: 0006-3207. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Over half of the world's tropical forests are used for timber extraction by selective logging. Even though these forests are degraded to a variable degree, they are still important for tropical forest biodiversity. It is not yet known how biodiversity is impacted during and immediately after logging, and how fast it recovers. Here, we use ecoacoustics, and specifically the recording and analysis of soundscape dawn time series, to monitor the immediate impact and early recovery of biodiversity after selective logging. We describe the results of capturing a dawn time series of soundscapes in a Bornean tropical lowland forest before, during, and after selective logging. Soundscape saturation, which is correlated with the number of different calls that make up the soundscape, dropped significantly immediately after selective logging was carried out. The reduced saturation was mostly due to the loss of bird vocalizations, whereas insects did not seem to be impacted. In a space-for-time recording from the same area, soundscape saturation during the equivalent time of day recovered after one year, however began to drop again in years 2 and 3 after logging. Our results are suggestive of a strong effect of logging and seasonality on tropical forest soundscapes. Being able to track biodiversity changes and recovery over time in tropical forests managed for timber production can ultimately improve our odds of avoiding more species extinctions, by providing evidence-based recommendations on how much time forests need to recover biodiversity.
| Harkey, Monica; Holloway, Tracey; Kim, Eliot J; Baker, Kirk R; Henderson, Barron: Satellite Formaldehyde to Support Model Evaluation. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126 (4), pp. e2020JD032881, 2020, (e2020JD032881 2020JD032881). (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Abstract Formaldehyde (HCHO), a known carcinogen classified as a hazardous pollutant by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), is measured through monitoring networks across the U.S. Since these data are limited in spatial and temporal extent, model simulations from the U.S. EPA Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model are used to estimate ambient HCHO exposure for the EPA National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA). Here, we employ satellite HCHO retrievals from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI)—the NASA retrieval developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), and the European Union Quality Assurance for Essential Climate Variables (QA4ECV) retrieval—to evaluate three CMAQ configurations, spanning the summers of 2011 and 2016, with differing biogenic emissions inputs and chemical mechanisms. These CMAQ configurations capture the general spatial and temporal behavior of both satellite retrievals, but underestimate column HCHO, particularly in the western U.S. In the southeastern U.S., the comparison with OMI HCHO highlights differences in modeled meteorology and biogenic emissions even with differences in satellite retrievals. All CMAQ configurations show low daily correlations with OMI HCHO (r = 0.26–0.38), however, we find higher monthly correlations (r = 0.52–0.73), and the models correlate best with the OMI-QA4ECV product. Compared to surface observations, we find improved agreement over a 24-h period compared to afternoon-only, suggesting daily HCHO amounts are captured with more accuracy than afternoon amounts. This work highlights the potential for synergistic improvements in modeling and satellite retrievals to support near-surface HCHO estimates for the NATA and other applications.
| Bagwyn, Ruby; Bao, Kylen; Burivalova, Zuzana; Wilcove, David S.: Using citizen-science data to identify declining or recently extinct populations of Bahamian birds. In: Journal of Caribbean Ornithology, 33 , pp. 104-110, 2020, ISSN: 1544-4953. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Birds restricted to islands are especially vulnerable to extinction. To assess the status of island-specific populations of breeding landbirds in the Bahamas, we analyzed more than 307,000 occurrence records of Bahamian birds from the citizen-science database eBird. We identified populations that have gone unrecorded from 1 January 2012 to 31 May 2018 and which, therefore, may be declining, imperiled, or even extinct. We found 56 island populations, representing 30 species, that have gone unreported during that period. Including eBird records through 31 May 2020 lowered this number to 43 populations representing 25 species. These potentially declining or extinct island populations should be of concern to conservationists and merit follow-up searches by birdwatchers. Citizen-science data in eBird may offer a new way to identify imperiled populations in places that lack systematic, long-term bird surveys.
| Heilmayr, Robert; Rausch, Lisa L.; Munger, Jacob; Gibbs, Holly K: Brazil’s Amazon Soy Moratorium reduced deforestation. In: Nature Food, 1 (12), pp. 801-810, 2020, ISSN: 2662-1355. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Between 2004 and 2012, multiple policies contributed to one of the great conservation successes of the twenty-first century—an 84% decrease in the rate of Brazilian Amazon deforestation. Among the most prominent of these policies is the Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM), an agreement by grain traders not to purchase soy grown on recently deforested land. The ASM inspired widespread adoption of similar zero-deforestation commitments, but its impact is poorly understood due to its overlap with other conservation policies. Here, we apply an econometric triple-differences model to remotely sensed deforestation data to isolate the ASM’s impact within Brazil’s Arc of Deforestation. We show that the ASM reduced deforestation in soy-suitable locations in the Amazon by 0.66 ± 0.32 percentage points relative to a counterfactual control, preventing 18,000 ± 9,000 km2 of deforestation over its first decade (2006–2016). Although these results highlight potential benefits of private conservation policies, the ASM’s success was dependent on complementarities with public property registries and deforestation monitoring.
| Limaye, Vijay S.; Grabow, Maggie L.; Stull, Valerie J.; Patz, Jonathan A.: Developing A Definition Of Climate And Health Literacy. In: Health Affairs, 39 (12), pp. 2182-2188, 2020. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
A new generation of activists is calling for bold responses to the climate crisis. Although young people are motivated to act on climate issues, existing educational frameworks do not adequately prepare them by addressing the scope and complexity of the human health risks associated with climate change. We adapted the US government’s climate literacy principles to propose a definition and corresponding set of elements for a concept we term climate and health literacy. We conducted a scoping review to assess how the peer-reviewed literature addresses these elements. Our analysis reveals a focus on training health professionals, more international than US domestic content, and limited information about data and models, fossil fuels, and equity. We propose developing a framework that builds on the elements to support a broader educational agenda that prepares students and future leaders to recognize the complex health ramifications of a changing climate.
| Hultman, Nathan E.; Clarke, Leon; Frisch, Carla; Kennedy, Kevin; McJeon, Haewon; Cyrs, Tom; Hansel, Pete; Bodnar, Paul; Manion, Michelle; Edwards, Morgan R.; Cui, Ryna; Bowman, Christina; Lund, Jessie; Westphal, Michael I.; Clapper, Andrew; Jaeger, Joel; Sen, Arijit; Lou, Jiehong; Saha, Devashree; Jaglom, Wendy; Calhoun, Koben; Igusky, Kristin; deWeese, James; Hammoud, Kareem; Altimirano, J. C.; Dennis, Margaret; Henderson, Chris; Zwicker, Gill; O'Neill, John: Fusing subnational with national climate action is central to decarbonization: the case of the United States. In: Nature Communications, 11 (1), pp. 5255, 2020, ISSN: 2041-1723. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Approaches that root national climate strategies in local actions will be essential for all countries as they develop new nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. The potential impact of climate action from non-national actors in delivering higher global ambition is significant. Sub-national action in the United States provides a test for how such actions can accelerate emissions reductions. We aggregated U.S. state, city, and business commitments within an integrated assessment model to assess how a national climate strategy can be built upon non-state actions. We find that existing commitments alone could reduce emissions 25% below 2005 levels by 2030, and that enhancing actions by these actors could reduce emissions up to 37%. We show how these actions can provide a stepped-up basis for additional federal action to reduce emissions by 49%---consistent with 1.5thinspacetextdegreeC. Our analysis demonstrates sub-national actions can lead to substantial reductions and support increased national action.
| Dröge, Saskia; Martin, Dominic Andreas; Andriafanomezantsoa, Rouvah; Burivalova, Zuzana; Fulgence, Thio Rosin; Osen, Kristina; Rakotomalala, Eric; Schwab, Dominik; Wurz, Annemarie; Richter, Torsten; Kreft, Holger: Listening to a changing landscape: Acoustic indices reflect bird species richness and plot-scale vegetation structure across different land-use types in north-eastern Madagascar. In: Ecological Indicators, 120 , pp. 106929, 2020, ISSN: 1470-160X. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
New technologies like ecoacoustic surveys promise time and cost efficiency for biodiversity assessments, serve as a basis for effective conservation policies, and are particularly appealing for remote and highly diverse tropical areas. Acoustic indices facilitate the analysis of large acoustic datasets but no consensus on their performance has been reached yet. We evaluated the efficacy of four acoustic indices (Acoustic Complexity Index, Acoustic Diversity Index, Acoustic Evenness Index, Acoustic Entropy) for sound data analysis and biodiversity assessments inside a national park and the agricultural mosaic landscape of north-eastern Madagascar, a global biodiversity hotspot. We used self-built sound recorders to continuously record soundscapes on 80plots across seven land-use types (old-growth forest, forest fragment, forest–derived and fallow-derived vanilla agroforest, herbaceous and woody fallow, rice paddy) and compared index values between land–use types, assessed the correlation with bird species richness as measured by point counts, and related the acoustic indices to plot- and landscape-scale parameters. The Acoustic Diversity Index, Acoustic Evenness Index (inverse) and Acoustic Entropy were highest in old-growth forest and lowest for rice paddies and fallow land. Index values for structurally similar land-use types did not differ significantly from each other. The correlation of the three acoustic indices with bird species richness was strongest during daytime (R2≥0.30). Differences in the index values were best explained by land-use type and vegetation density. Our results showed that all investigated indices except the Acoustic Complexity Index were suitable biodiversity indicators for a tropical, agricultural landscape. Soundscape diversity was positively affected by plot-scale vegetation structure, emphasizing the importance of forests and particularly old-growth forest for conservation. We demonstrated that acoustic indices and sound recordings are a useful tool for assessing biodiversity in tropical agricultural mosaic landscapes. To realize the full potential of ecoacoustics in conservation, sampling guidelines and user-friendly analysis packages will be key to facilitate a wider implementation.
| Plowright, Raina; Reaser, Jamie; Locke, Harvey; Woodley, Stephen J.; Patz, Jonathan Alan; Becker, Daniel; Oppler, Gabriel; Hudson, Peter; Tabor, Gary M.: A call to action - Understanding land use-induced zoonotic spillover to protect environmental, animal, and human health. In: EcoEvoRxiv, 2020. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Pereira, Ritaumaria; Rausch, Lisa L; Carrara, Aline; Gibbs, Holly K: Extensive Production Practices and Incomplete Implementation Hinder Brazil’s Zero-Deforestation Cattle Agreements in Pará. In: Tropical Conservation Science, 13 , pp. 1940082920942014, 2020. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Global attention to the role of cattle production in Amazon deforestation led to the development of new public and private-sector supply chain policies designed to control deforestation in Brazil. These zero-deforestation Cattle Agreements (hereafter, CA) are between meatpacking companies and Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as with Brazil’s public prosecutors. However, after over a decade of concerted efforts to reduce deforestation linked to the cattle sector, the problem persists. Here, we use field surveys of ranchers, slaughterhouse managers, and key industry personnel to characterize cattle supply chain actors in southeastern Pará and their responses to the CA. We show that loopholes weaken the CA and enable ranchers to evade full compliance, and we highlight strategies and challenges for ranchers seeking to intensify production. We conclude by discussing how the findings presented in this study suggest that ongoing efforts to reduce Amazon deforestation may require both support for improved efficiency in the cattle sector and the tightening of several loopholes currently utilized by ranchers to avoid detection of ongoing deforestation.
| Rajão, Raoni; Soares-Filho, Britaldo; Nunes, Felipe; Börner, Jan; Machado, Lilian; Assis, Débora; Oliveira, Amanda; Pinto, Luis; Ribeiro, Vivian; Rausch, Lisa; Gibbs, Holly; Figueira, Danilo: The rotten apples of Brazil's agribusiness. In: Science, 369 (6501), pp. 246-248, 2020, ISSN: 0036-8075. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Skidmore, Marin; Moffette, Fanny; Rausch, Lisa; Gibbs, Holly K.: Characterizing compliance in cattle supply chains: What factors encourage deforestation-free production in the Brazilian Amazon?. In: Report for the Meridian Institute, Supply Chain Sustainability Research Fund, 2020. (Type: Journal Article | )|