For publications earlier than 2019, view our publications archive.
| Lewis, Joanna I.; Nemet, Gregory F.: Assessing learning in low carbon technologies: Toward a more comprehensive approach. In: WIREs Climate Change, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. e730, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Abstract With decades of experience developing and deploying low carbon technologies around the world, much has been learned. We assess six categories that represent the diversity of methodological approaches that have been used to study low carbon learning: (1) learning curves; (2) expert elicitations; (3) patent analysis; (4) engineering-based decomposition; (5) policy intervention studies; and (6) case studies. Based on a review of low carbon learning studies in these six areas, we summarize what we know about low carbon learning, and what we have yet to fully understand, including the methodological strengths and limitations of key studies conducted to date. We find that a more comprehensive understanding of low carbon learning is necessary and timely given the massive scale and short time horizon of the low carbon transition, and that there are real benefits to employing a comprehensive approach using multiple methods. We find a need for better data sets, and for studies of a more diverse set of technologies, as well as of interactions among technologies. In addition, studies should be more explicit about local context, with a particular need for additional focus on emerging and developing countries. We identify key topics that warrant further research, including technology specific learning methods; spatial distinctions and the local and global linkages that influence learning; and an expanded study of the cultural, social, environmental, and political factors that influence learning. Finally, we recommend more nuance in the design of policies directed at accelerating low carbon learning. This article is categorized under: The Carbon Economy and Climate Mitigation > Future of Global Energy
| Ahlstrom, Mark; Mays, Jacob; Gimon, Eric; Gelston, Andrew; Murphy, Caitlin; Denholm, Paul; Nemet, Greg: Hybrid Resources: Challenges, Implications, Opportunities, and Innovation. In: IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 37-44, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Giannousakis, Anastasis; Hilaire, Jérôme; Nemet, Gregory F.; Luderer, Gunnar; Pietzcker, Robert C.; Rodrigues, Renato; Baumstark, Lavinia; Kriegler, Elmar: How uncertainty in technology costs and carbon dioxide removal availability affect climate mitigation pathways. In: Energy, vol. 216, pp. 119253, 2021, ISSN: 0360-5442. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” as stated in the Paris Agreement requires ambitious emissions reductions from all sectors. Rapid technology cost declines in the energy sector are changing energy investment and emissions, even with the weak climate policies currently in place. We assess how energy supply costs and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) availability affect mitigation by performing a sensitivity analysis with the energy-economy-climate model REMIND. We use new scenarios with carbon price paths that aim to reduce the frequently seen temperature overshoot. Further, we measure the sensitivities of mitigation indicators to the costs of technologies across economic sectors. We assess the sensitivity to nine techno-economic parameters: the costs of wind, solar, biomass, gas, coal, oil, nuclear, and electric/hydrogen vehicles, as well as the injection rate of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). While technology costs play a role in shaping optimal pathways, we find that transport sector costs affect the economics of deep decarbonization, whereas costs of renewables are more important for scenarios under weak climate policies. This further highlights the value of renewable energy deployment as a no-regrets option in climate policy. In terms of the sensitivity of model outputs, economic indicators become more sensitive to costs than emissions, with increasing policy stringency.
| Bendorf, Josh; Hubbard, Shane; Kucharik, Christopher J.; VanLoocke, Andy: Rapid changes in agricultural land use and hydrology in the Driftless Region. In: Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. e20214, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Abstract Annual cropping systems are common in the Driftless Region of the U.S. Midwest, but soil degradation is prone to happen in such systems due to the rugged topography of the region. Recent rapid increases in row crop area have been noted in this region, with annual precipitation and hydrologic extremes on the rise in recent decades. The aim of this research to use geospatial datasets and tools in order to assess the regional trends in land use, precipitation, and hydrologic change and quantify the relationship between these environmental trends. Between 2006 and 2017, substantial row crop expansion of 10,000 ha or more was common across HUC 8 (Hydrologic Unit Code 8) watersheds in our study area. Expansion occurred mainly on steeper slopes, converting existing grasslands or alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) to row crops. Classifying land as planted (in row crops), plantable (in row crops or could be converted), and unplantable (unable to be converted) revealed that Driftless Region watersheds have ∼30–50% of plantable land available for future expansion. Annual precipitation was highly variable during this time period but had a general increasing trend. On average, precipitation showed higher correlation to streamflow compared to row crop expansion across 27 USGS river gage drainage basins in our study area. However, when the increase in row crop area was significant and was accompanied by increasing precipitation, stronger correlation between row crop area and annual streamflow was exhibited. This finding suggests that row crop expansion acts to enhance the effects of increasing precipitation on local hydrology.
| Huang, Jingyi; Hartemink, Alfred E.; Kucharik, Christopher J.: Soil-dependent responses of US crop yields to climate variability and depth to groundwater. In: Agricultural Systems, vol. 190, pp. 103085, 2021, ISSN: 0308-521X. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
The effects of climate variations on crop yield have been widely studied. However, the effects of soil on crop-climate responses are often ignored in crop yield prediction. We investigated the effects of soil texture and soil organic carbon concentration (SOC) on the yield responses of seven major crops (corn, winter wheat, soybean, cotton, barley, oats, rice) to growing season precipitation and temperature between 1958 and 2019 across the conterminous US. We also evaluated the effects of irrigation and groundwater depth on crop-climate responses. Crop yields were most sensitive to precipitation and temperature variability in coarse-textured soils and less responsive to these weather parameters in medium- and fine- textured soils. Increasing SOC concentration (> 2%) contributed to crop yields being less sensitive to precipitation – due to increased water retention, and less responsive to temperature – presumably due to increased buffering capacity against increased water lost through evapotranspiration. Irrigation and an intermediate depth to groundwater increase the resilience of crops to precipitation and temperature changes and these effects were also dependent on soil texture and SOC. To enhance food security for a rapidly growing global population under a changing climate, best management practices should be adopted that improve soil structure and carbon stocks that can increase soil available water storage (“Green Water”) and nutrient retention and promote energy conservation. The spatial-temporal variations of soil texture, SOC, and depth to groundwater should be considered in agricultural and ecosystem modeling to more accurately capture crop yield response to climate variations.
| Dong, Changgui; Qi, Ye; Nemet, Gregory: A government approach to address coal overcapacity in China. In: Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 278, pp. 123417, 2021, ISSN: 0959-6526. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Coal production in China has direct implications for globally important issues such as sustainable development, climate change, and energy transition. However, coal is prone to recurring, and sometimes extended, periods of overcapacity where production capacity is significantly and persistently larger than actual production or demand. Mainstream economics holds that price signals will clear these markets so that extant overcapacity would exit automatically. However, such a self-clearing process usually takes long time and is full of exiting barriers. In this article, we innovatively use a cobweb model to compare China’s government actions to an optimal strategy that minimizes the cost of cutting capacity, allowing us to evaluate the policies’ effectiveness, speed, and cost efficiency. We find that China’s efforts at curbing coal overcapacity have been effective, timely, and only modestly costly in returning the coal market to a sustainable equilibrium. The strong “visible hand” of China’s government has been an effective mechanism of governance to coordinate collective actions of market participants and avoid the overcapacity trap. By removing 500–800 million tons of coal production capacity permanently, China has decarbonized its energy supply system within a relative short time period, thus making more room for the development of renewable energy.
| Carvalho, Raquel; Rausch, Lisa; Munger, Jacob; Gibbs, Holly K.: The Role of High-Volume Ranches as Cattle Suppliers: Supply Chain Connections and Cattle Production in Mato Grosso. In: Land, vol. 10, no. 10, 2021, ISSN: 2073-445X. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Brazil’s zero-deforestation Cattle Agreements (CAs) have influenced the supply chain but their impact on deforestation has been limited in part because slaughterhouses monitor deforestation only on the properties they buy from directly. Consequently, deforestation continues to enter the supply chain indirectly from properties that are not monitored. Knowledge gaps and data limitations have made it challenging to close this loophole and achieve meaningful reductions in deforestation. Here we leverage our large property-level supply chain database that links together six years of records from the Animal Transport Guide (GTA), high-resolution satellite data, property boundaries, and land cover data to quantify different types of supply chain connections and characterize cattle production in Mato Grosso. We find that a relatively small number of high-volume suppliers—defined as the top 5% of cattle suppliers in terms of the volume of cattle sold–supplied 50–60% of the total volume purchased by major slaughterhouses. One-fourth of high-volume direct suppliers cleared forest between 2009–2018, and 90% of them also bought from indirect suppliers with deforestation, leading these high-volume direct suppliers to act as funnels for deforestation into the supply chain. Because they serve as important hubs in the supply chain, high-volume suppliers may represent a key starting point to expand the CAs to cover large numbers of indirect suppliers.
| Moffette, Fanny; Gibbs, Holly: Agricultural Displacement and Deforestation Leakage in the Brazilian Legal Amazon. In: Land Economics, vol. 97, pp. 040219-0045R, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Moffette, Fanny; Skidmore, Marin; Gibbs, Holly K.: Environmental policies that shape productivity: Evidence from cattle ranching in the Amazon. In: Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, vol. 109, pp. 102490, 2021, ISSN: 0095-0696. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
We examine two potential economic benefits of environmental policy, increased agricultural investment and productivity. This is important because if these benefits are realized, environmental policy could optimize land use for food production while minimizing the negative environmental impacts. We employ multiple empirical techniques to analyze a market-led and a public-led anti-deforestation policy that influence the vast cattle ranching sector in the Brazilian Amazon. We show that both policies increased cattle productivity, while the market-led policy also increased investment. We find no evidence that the two policies were substitutes or complements. Results indicate that the policies were each effective in different market- and land-use-contexts, so that enforcement of both policies increased productivity for a larger set of properties. Our research reveals both indirect and unintended benefits of environmental regulation, which have implications for the design of policies that affect the agricultural sector, a major driver of land-use change.
| Skidmore, Marin Elisabeth; Moffette, Fanny; Rausch, Lisa; Christie, Matthew; Munger, Jacob; Gibbs, Holly K.: Cattle ranchers and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon: Production, location, and policies. In: Global Environmental Change, vol. 68, pp. 102280, 2021, ISSN: 0959-3780. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Deforestation for cattle production persists in the Brazilian Amazon despite ongoing efforts by the public and private sectors to combat it. The complexity of the cattle supply chain, which we describe in depth here, creates challenges for the landmark Zero-Deforestation Cattle Agreements in particular and for enforcement of deforestation policies in general. Here, we present a holistic analysis that is increasingly relevant as the number of policies, initiatives, and markets affecting the region increases. We provide the first property-level analysis of which ranchers decided to deforest in the last decade and identify the characteristics that are most related to deforestation. We rely on newly available animal transit and property boundary data to examine 113,000 properties in the three major cattle-producing states in the Brazilian Amazon. We consider characteristics related to a property’s role in the supply chain, location, land characteristics, and the policy environment. We find that deforestation is most likely to occur on properties that sell fewer cattle and earlier in the supply chain, are located in remote locations, and have a high percent of remaining forest. Our results can be used to improve enforcement of existing policies by targeting resources to properties and location where deforestation is more likely.
| Charles, Joel; Lois, Abby N.; Mukhopadhyay, Chirantan; Maibach, Edward; Patz, Jonathan A.: Health professionals as advocates for climate solutions: A case study from Wisconsin,. In: The Journal of Climate Change and Health, vol. 4, pp. 100052, 2021, ISSN: 2667-2782, (Getting to a Greener, Healthier World by 2030: Solutions from Healthcare professionals). (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Health professionals are in a unique position to accelerate the creation of policies to mitigate and adapt to the public health emergency that is the climate crisis. At the forefront of the burgeoning climate and health movement are state and national health professional networks that are educating their colleagues and the lay public about the gravity of this threat and advocating for equitable solutions. Here we present a case of one such group, Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action (WHPCA), highlighting its organizational structure and path to success. We also present a logic map to help understand the primary leverage points for health professional advocacy.
| Tefera, Worku; Kumie, Abera; Berhane, Kiros; Gilliland, Frank; Lai, Alexandra; Sricharoenvech, Piyaporn; Patz, Jonathan; Samet, Jonathan; Schauer, James J.: Source Apportionment of Fine Organic Particulate Matter (PM2.5) in Central Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 21, 2021, ISSN: 1660-4601. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
The development of infrastructure, a rapidly increasing population, and urbanization has resulted in increasing air pollution levels in the African city of Addis Ababa. Prior investigations into air pollution have not yet sufficiently addressed the sources of atmospheric particulate matter. This study aims to identify the major sources of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and its seasonal contribution in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Twenty-four-hour average PM2.5 mass samples were collected every 6th day, from November 2015 through November 2016. Chemical species were measured in samples and source apportionment was conducted using a chemical mass balance (CMB) receptor model that uses particle-phase organic tracer concentrations to estimate source contributions to PM2.5 organic carbon (OC) and the overall PM2.5 mass. Vehicular sources (28%), biomass burning (18.3%), plus soil dust (17.4%) comprise about two-thirds of the PM2.5 mass, followed by sulfate (6.5%). The sources of air pollution vary seasonally, particularly during the main wet season (June–September) and short rain season (February–April): From motor vehicles, (31.0 ± 2.6%) vs. (24.7 ± 1.2%); biomass burning, (21.5 ± 5%) vs. (14 ± 2%); and soil dust, (11 ± 6.4%) vs. (22.7 ± 8.4%), respectively, are amongst the three principal sources of ambient PM2.5 mass in the city. We suggest policy measures focusing on transportation, cleaner fuel or energy, waste management, and increasing awareness on the impact of air pollution on the public’s health.
| Sricharoenvech, Piyaporn; Lai, Alexandra; Tefera, Worku; Kumie, Abera; Berhane, Kiros; Gilliland, Frank; Samet, Jonathan; Patz, Jonathan; Schauer, James J.: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity of fine particulate matter health impacts in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In: Atmospheric Pollution Research, vol. 12, no. 9, pp. 101149, 2021, ISSN: 1309-1042. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Previous studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, focused on PM characteristics and sources, but PM's biological activity in this area has not been adequately investigated. In this study, cellular and acellular ROS activities were measured to assess PM toxicity. PM2.5 samples in Addis Ababa were collected from November 2015 to November 2016 and their chemical composition was analyzed (organic and elemental carbon (OC/EC), ions, elements, and organic molecular markers). PM-induced ROS activity was measured in vitro in alveolar macrophage cells and using the acellular DTT assay. PM2.5 in Addis Ababa primarily consisted of primary pollutants (e.g., EC, water-insoluble OC). Annual average cellular ROS activities (±SD) were 46.5 ± 15.5 μg Zymosan/m3 and 995 ± 403 μg Zymosan/mg PM (normalized to air volume and PM2.5 mass, respectively), with no clear seasonal variations. The annual average DTT consumption rates (±SD) were 2.35 ± 0.83 nmol/min/m3 and 51.9 ± 17.6 nmol/min/mg PM, respectively, and were also similar throughout the year. Only the monthly air volume-based ROS activity had a similar trend to monthly mass concentration. Compared to other major cities worldwide, Addis Ababa PM2.5 had much lower ROS activity with no strong seasonal trends, paralleling the lack of seasonal changes in PM composition and sources. Poor correlations were observed between ROS activity and all components except mobile source tracers. This difference might be due to lower secondary aerosol content in PM2.5 in Addis Ababa than in other cities.
| Younkin, Samuel G.; Fremont, Henry C.; Patz, Jonathan A.: The Health-Oriented Transportation Model: Estimating the health benefits of active transportation. In: Journal of Transport & Health, vol. 22, pp. 101103, 2021, ISSN: 2214-1405. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
Overdependence on gasoline-powered personal automobiles in industrialized urban settings has resulted in transportation behaviour that is detrimental to public health. Risk not only stems from an increase in air pollution, but also, and more significantly for wealthy nations, from a reduction in physical activity. Tools and models that demonstrate the magnitude of the health benefits of physical activity are needed to inform policies addressing the epidemic of physical inactivity and to help promote environmentally sustainable cities.
| Kruse, Samuel; Ezenwanne, Odilichi; Matthias, Otto; Kjellstrom, Tord; Patrick, Remington; Bruno, Lemke; Simane, Belay; Jonathan, A: Occupational health impacts of climate change across different climate zones and elevations in sub-Saharan East Africa. In: African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 15, pp. 243-251, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Lee, D.; Ahmadul, H.; Patz, J.; Block, P.: Predicting social and health vulnerability to floods in Bangladesh. In: Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 1807–1823, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Hou, Xiao; Gao, Song; Li, Qin; Kang, Yuhao; Chen, Nan; Chen, Kaiping; Rao, Jinmeng; Ellenberg, Jordan S.; Patz, Jonathan A.: Intracounty modeling of COVID-19 infection with human mobility: Assessing spatial heterogeneity with business traffic, age, and race. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 118, no. 24, pp. e2020524118, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | | )|
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global threat presenting health, economic, and social challenges that continue to escalate. Metapopulation epidemic modeling studies in the susceptible–exposed–infectious–removed (SEIR) style have played important roles in informing public health policy making to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These models typically rely on a key assumption on the homogeneity of the population. This assumption certainly cannot be expected to hold true in real situations; various geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural environments affect the behaviors that drive the spread of COVID-19 in different communities. What’s more, variation of intracounty environments creates spatial heterogeneity of transmission in different regions. To address this issue, we develop a human mobility flow-augmented stochastic SEIR-style epidemic modeling framework with the ability to distinguish different regions and their corresponding behaviors. This modeling framework is then combined with data assimilation and machine learning techniques to reconstruct the historical growth trajectories of COVID-19 confirmed cases in two counties in Wisconsin. The associations between the spread of COVID-19 and business foot traffic, race and ethnicity, and age structure are then investigated. The results reveal that, in a college town (Dane County), the most important heterogeneity is age structure, while, in a large city area (Milwaukee County), racial and ethnic heterogeneity becomes more apparent. Scenario studies further indicate a strong response of the spread rate to various reopening policies, which suggests that policy makers may need to take these heterogeneities into account very carefully when designing policies for mitigating the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and reopening.
| 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, vol. 5, no. 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.
| Symonds, P; Milner, J; Mohajeri, N; Aplin, J; Hale, J; Lloyd, S J; Fremont, H; Younkin, S; Shrubsole, C; Robertson, L; Taylor, J; Zimmermann, N; Wilkinson, P; Davies, M: A tool for assessing the climate change mitigation and health impacts of environmental policies: the Cities Rapid Assessment Framework for Transformation (CRAFT) [version 2; peer review: 3 approved]. In: Wellcome Open Research, vol. 5, no. 269, 2021. (Type: Journal Article | )|
| Harkey, Monica; Holloway, Tracey; Kim, Eliot J; Baker, Kirk R; Henderson, Barron: Satellite Formaldehyde to Support Model Evaluation. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, vol. 126, no. 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.