Matching Items (4)

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Effects of climate change and urban development on the distribution and conservation of vegetation in a Mediterranean type ecosystem

Description

Climate and land use change are projected to threaten biodiversity over the coming century. However, the combined effects of these threats on biodiversity and the capacity of current conservation networks

Climate and land use change are projected to threaten biodiversity over the coming century. However, the combined effects of these threats on biodiversity and the capacity of current conservation networks to protect species' habitat are not well understood. The goals of this study were to evaluate the effect of climate change and urban development on vegetation distribution in a Mediterranean-type ecosystem; to identify the primary source of uncertainty in suitable habitat predictions; and to evaluate how well conservation areas protect future habitat in the Southwest ecoregion of the California Floristic Province. I used a consensus-based modeling approach combining three different species distribution models to predict current and future suitable habitat for 19 plant species representing different plant functional types (PFT) defined by fire-response (obligate seeders, resprouting shrubs), and life forms (herbs, subshurbs). I also examined the response of species grouped by range sizes (large, small). I used two climate models, two emission scenarios, two thresholds, and high-resolution (90m resolution) environmental data to create a range of potential scenarios. I evaluated the effectiveness of an existing conservation network to protect suitable habitat for rare species in light of climate and land use change. The results indicate that the area of suitable habitat for each species varied depending on the climate model, emission scenario, and threshold combination. The suitable habitat for up to four species could disappear from the ecoregion, while suitable habitat for up to 15 other species could decrease under climate change conditions. The centroid of the species' suitable environmental conditions could shift up to 440 km. Large net gains in suitable habitat were predicted for a few species. The suitable habitat area for herbs has a small response to climate change, while obligate seeders could be the most affected PFT. The results indicate that the other two PFTs gain a considerable amount of suitable habitat area. Several rare species could lose suitable habitat area inside designated conservation areas while gaining suitable habitat area outside. Climate change is predicted to be more important than urban development as a driver of habitat loss for vegetation in this region in the coming century. These results indicate that regional analyses of this type are useful and necessary to understand the dynamics of drivers of change at the regional scale and to inform decision making at this scale.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Assessing land-atmosphere interactions through distributed footprint sampling at two eddy covariance towers in semiarid ecosystems of the Southwestern U.S

Description

Land-atmosphere interactions of semiarid shrublands have garnered significant scientific interest. One of the main tools used for this research is the eddy covariance (EC) method, which measures fluxes of energy,

Land-atmosphere interactions of semiarid shrublands have garnered significant scientific interest. One of the main tools used for this research is the eddy covariance (EC) method, which measures fluxes of energy, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. EC fluxes can be difficult to interpret due to complexities within the EC footprint (i.e. the surface conditions that contribute to the flux measurements). Most EC studies use a small number of soil probes to estimate the land surface states underlying the measured fluxes, which likely undersamples the footprint-scale conditions, especially in semiarid shrublands which are characterized by high spatial and temporal variability. In this study, I installed a dense network of soil moisture and temperature probe profiles in the footprint region of an EC tower at two semiarid sites: a woody savanna in southern Arizona and a mixed shrubland in southern New Mexico. For data from May to September 2013, I link land surface states to EC fluxes through daily footprints estimated using an analytical model. Novel approaches are utilized to partition evapotranspiration, estimate EC footprint soil states, connect differences in fluxes to footprint composition, and assess key drivers behind soil state variability. I verify the hypothesis that a small number of soil probes poorly estimates the footprint conditions for soil moisture, due to its high spatial variability. Soil temperature, however, behaves more consistently in time and space. As such, distributed surface measurements within the EC footprint allow for stronger ties between evapotranspiration and moisture, but demonstrate no significant improvement in connecting sensible heat flux and temperature. I also find that in these systems vegetation cover appears to have stronger controls on soil moisture and temperature than does soil texture. Further, I explore the influence of footprint vegetation composition on the measured fluxes, which reveals that during the monsoon season evaporative fraction tends to increase with footprint bare soil coverage for the New Mexico site and that the ratio of daily transpiration to evapotranspiration increases with grass coverage at the Arizona site. The thesis results are useful for understanding the land-atmosphere interactions of these ecosystems and for guiding future EC studies in heterogeneous landscapes.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Optimizing the effect of vegetation for pedestrian thermal comfort and urban heat island mitigation in a hot arid urban environment

Description

Rapid urbanization in Phoenix, Arizona has increased the nighttime temperature by 5°C (9 °F), and the average daily temperatures by 3.1°C (5.6 °F) (Baker et al 2002). On the macro

Rapid urbanization in Phoenix, Arizona has increased the nighttime temperature by 5°C (9 °F), and the average daily temperatures by 3.1°C (5.6 °F) (Baker et al 2002). On the macro scale, the energy balance of urban surface paving materials is the main contributor to the phenomenon of the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI). On the micro scale, it results in a negative effect on the pedestrian thermal comfort environment. In their efforts to revitalize Downtown Phoenix, pedestrian thermal comfort improvements became one of the main aims for City planners. There has been an effort in reformulating City zoning standards and building codes with the goal of developing a pedestrian friendly civic environment. Much of the literature dealing with mitigating UHI effects recommends extensive tree planting as the chief strategy for reducing the UHI and improving outdoor human thermal comfort. On the pedestrian scale, vegetation plays a significant role in modifying the microclimate by providing shade and aiding the human thermal comfort via evapotranspiration. However, while the extensive tree canopy is beneficial in providing daytime shade for pedestrians, it may reduce the pavement surfaces' sky-view factor during the night, thereby reducing the rate of nighttime radiation to the sky and trapping the heat gained within the urban materials. This study strives to extend the understanding, and optimize the recommendations for the use of landscape in the urban context of Phoenix, Arizona for effectiveness in both improving the human thermal comfort and in mitigating the urban heat island effect.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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A socio-ecological understanding of extreme heat vulnerability in Maricopa County, Arizona

Description

This dissertation explores vulnerability to extreme heat hazards in the Maricopa County, Arizona metropolitan region. By engaging an interdisciplinary approach, I uncover the epidemiological, historical-geographical, and mitigation dimensions of human

This dissertation explores vulnerability to extreme heat hazards in the Maricopa County, Arizona metropolitan region. By engaging an interdisciplinary approach, I uncover the epidemiological, historical-geographical, and mitigation dimensions of human vulnerability to extreme heat in a rapidly urbanizing region characterized by an intense urban heat island and summertime heat waves. I first frame the overall research within global climate change and hazards vulnerability research literature, and then present three case studies. I conclude with a synthesis of the findings and lessons learned from my interdisciplinary approach using an urban political ecology framework. In the first case study I construct and map a predictive index of sensitivity to heat health risks for neighborhoods, compare predicted neighborhood sensitivity to heat-related hospitalization rates, and estimate relative risk of hospitalizations for neighborhoods. In the second case study, I unpack the history and geography of land use/land cover change, urban development and marginalization of minorities that created the metropolitan region's urban heat island and consequently, the present conditions of extreme heat exposure and vulnerability in the urban core. The third study uses computational microclimate modeling to evaluate the potential of a vegetation-based intervention for mitigating extreme heat in an urban core neighborhood. Several findings relevant to extreme heat vulnerability emerge from the case studies. First, two main socio-demographic groups are found to be at higher risk for heat illness: low-income minorities in sparsely-vegetated neighborhoods in the urban core, and the elderly and socially-isolated in the expansive suburban fringe of Maricopa County. The second case study reveals that current conditions of heat exposure in the region's urban heat island are the legacy of historical marginalization of minorities and large-scale land-use/land cover transformations of natural desert land covers into heat-retaining urban surfaces of the built environment. Third, summertime air temperature reductions in the range 0.9-1.9 °C and of up to 8.4 °C in surface temperatures in the urban core can be achieved through desert-adapted canopied vegetation, suggesting that, at the microscale, the urban heat island can be mitigated by creating vegetated park cool islands. A synthesis of the three case studies using the urban political ecology framework argues that climate changed-induced heat hazards in cities must be problematized within the socio-ecological transformations that produce and reproduce urban landscapes of risk. The interdisciplinary approach to heat hazards in this dissertation advances understanding of the social and ecological drivers of extreme heat by drawing on multiple theories and methods from sociology, urban and Marxist geography, microclimatology, spatial epidemiology, environmental history, political economy and urban political ecology.

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Date Created
  • 2013