This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2023
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- Computational Urban Science
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- National Science Foundation
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This perspective paper highlights the potentials, limitations, and combinations of openly available Earth observation (EO) data and big data in the context of environmental research in urban areas. The aim is to build the resilience of informal settlements to climate change impacts. In particular, it highlights the types, categories, spatial and temporal scales of publicly available big data. The benefits of publicly available big data become clear when looking at issues such as the development and quality of life in informal settlements within and around major African cities. Sub-Saharan African (SSA) cities are among the fastest growing urban areas in the world. However, they lack spatial information to guide urban planning towards climate-adapted cities and fair living conditions for disadvantaged residents who mostly reside in informal settlements. Therefore, this study collected key information on freely available data such as data on land cover, land use, and environmental hazards and pressures, demographic and socio-economic indicators for urban areas. They serve as a vital resource for success of many other related local studies, such as the transdisciplinary research project “DREAMS—Developing REsilient African cities and their urban environMent facing the provision of essential urban SDGs”. In the era of exponential growth of big data analytics, especially geospatial data, their utility in SSA is hampered by the disparate nature of these datasets due to the lack of a comprehensive overview of where and how to access them. This paper aims to provide transparency in this regard as well as a resource to access such datasets. Although the limitations of such big data are also discussed, their usefulness in assessing environmental hazards and human exposure, especially to climate change impacts, are emphasised.more » « less
Appropriately characterizing future changes in regional-scale precipitation requires assessment of the interactive effect owing to greenhouse gas-induced climate change and the physical growth of the built environment. Here we use a suite of medium resolution (20 km grid spacing) decadal scale simulations conducted with the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled to an urban canopy parameterization to examine the interplay between end-of-century long-lived greenhouse gas (LLGHG) forcing and urban expansion on continental US (CONUS) precipitation. Our results show that projected changes in extreme precipitation are at least one order of magnitude greater than projected changes in mean precipitation; this finding is geographically consistent over the seven CONUS National Climate Assessment (NCA) regions and between the pair of dynamically downscaled global climate model (GCM) forcings. We show that dynamical downscaling of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory GCM leads to projected end-of-century changes in extreme precipitation that are consistently greater compared to dynamical downscaling of the Community Earth System Model GCM for all regions except the Southeast NCA region. Our results demonstrate that the physical growth of the built environment can either enhance or suppress extreme precipitation across CONUS metropolitan regions. Incorporation of LLGHGs indicates compensating effects between urban environments and greenhouse gases, shifting the probability spectrum toward broad enhancement of extreme precipitation across future CONUS metropolitan areas. Our results emphasize the need for development of management policies that address flooding challenges exacerbated by the twin forcing agents of urban- and greenhouse gas-induced climate change.
While the amount of research on NBS is growing rapidly, there is a lack of evidence on community experiences of NBS design and implementation, particularly from low-income and informal settlements of African cities. This article adds new empirical evidence in this space through grounded analysis of NBS “niche” projects co-developed by intermediary organizations and communities in five sites across three settlements in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Findings are organized around four established NBS knowledge gaps: (1) NBS-society relations; (2) Design; (3) Implementation; (4) Effectiveness. We find that across the five studied sites, residents' perceptions and valuation of urban nature has changed through processes of co-design and co-implementation, enabling community ownership of projects, and hence playing a crucial role in NBS effectiveness over time. The integration of gray components into green infrastructure to create hybrid systems has proven necessary to meet physical constraints and communities' urgent needs such as flood mitigation. However, maintenance responsibilities and cost burdens are persisting issues that highlight the complex reality of NBS development in informal settlements. The cases highlight key considerations for actors involved in NBS development to support the replication, scaling up and institutionalization of NBS. These include the need to: (i) develop forms of engagement that align with co-production values; (ii) capture communities' own valuation of and motivations with NBS development for integration into design; (iii) elaborate technical guidance for hybrid green-gray infrastructure systems that can be constructed with communities; and (iv) help define and establish structures for maintenance responsibilities (especially governmental vs. civil society) that will enhance the environmental stewardship of public spaces.
null (Ed.)Frontline communities of California experience disproportionate social, economic, and environmental injustices, and climate change is exacerbating the root causes of inequity in those areas. Yet, climate adaptation and mitigation strategies often fail to meaningfully address the experience of frontline community stakeholders. Here, we present three challenges, three errors, and three solutions to better integrate frontline communities' needs in climate change research and to create more impactful policies. We base our perspective on our collective firsthand experiences and on scholarship to bridge local knowledge with hydroclimatic research and policymaking. Unawareness of local priorities (Challenge 1) is a consequence of Ignoring local knowledge (Error 1) that can be, in part, resolved with Information exchange and expansion of community-based participatory research (Solution 1). Unequal access to natural resources (Challenge 2) is often due to Top-down decision making (Error 2), but Buffer zones for environmental protection, green areas, air quality, and water security can help achieve environmental justice (Solution 2). Unequal access to public services (Challenge 3) is a historical issue that persists because of System abuse and tokenism (Error 3), and it may be partially resolved with Multi-benefit projects to create socioeconomic and environmental opportunities within frontline communities that include positive externalities for other stakeholders and public service improvements (Solution 3). The path forward in climate change policy decision-making must be grounded in collaboration with frontline community members and practitioners trained in working with vulnerable stakeholders. Addressing co-occurring inequities exacerbated by climate change requires transdisciplinary efforts to identify technical, policy, and engineering solutions.more » « less
Climate change is expected to increase weather extremes and variability, including more frequent weather whiplashes or extreme swings between severe drought and extraordinarily wet years. Shifts in precipitation patterns will alter stream flow regimes, affecting critical life history stages of sensitive aquatic organisms. Understanding how threatened fish species, such as steelhead/rainbow trout (
Oncorhynchus mykiss), are affected by stream flows in years with contrasting environmental conditions is important for their conservation. Here, we report how extreme wet and dry years, from 2015 to 2018, affected stream flow patterns in two tributaries to the South Fork Eel River, California, USA, and aspects of O. mykissecology, including over‐summer fish growth and body condition as well as spring out‐migration timing. We found that stream flow patterns differed across years in the timing and magnitude of large winter–spring flow events and in summer low‐flow levels. We were surprised to find that differences in stream flows did not impact growth, body condition, or timing of out‐migration of O. mykiss. Fish growth was limited in the late summer in these streams (average of 0.02 ± 0.05 mm/d), but was similar across dry and wet years, and so was end‐of‐summer body condition and pool‐specific biomass loss from the beginning to the end of the summer. Similarly, O. mykissmigrated out of tributaries during the last week of March/first week of April regardless of the timing of spring flow events. We suggest that the muted response to inter‐annual hydrologic variability is due to the high quality of habitat provided by these unimpaired, groundwater‐fed tributaries. Similar streams that are likely to maintain cool temperatures and sufficient base flows, even in the driest years, should be a high priority for conservation and restoration efforts.