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  1. Extreme daily values of precipitation (1939–2021), discharge (1991–2021), phosphorus (P) load (1994–2021), and phycocyanin, a pigment of Cyanobacteria (June 1–September 15 of 2008–2021) are clustered as multi-day events for Lake Mendota, Wisconsin. Long-range dependence, or memory, is the shortest for precipitation and the longest for phycocyanin. Extremes are clustered for all variates and those of P load and phycocyanin are most strongly clustered. Extremes of P load are predictable from extremes of precipitation, and precipitation and P load are correlated with later concentrations of phycocyanin. However, time delays from 1 to 60 d were found between P load extremes and the next extreme phycocyanin event within the same year of observation. Although most of the lake’s P enters in extreme events, blooms of Cyanobacteria may be sustained by recycling and food web processes.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 29, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  3. Crop rotations are known to improve soil health by replenishing lost nutrients, increasing organic matter, improving microbial activity, and reducing disease risk and weed pressure. We characterized the spatial distribution of crops and dominant field-scale cropping sequences from 2008 to 2019 for the Wisconsin Central Sands (WCS) region, a major producer of potato and vegetables in the U.S. The dominant two- and three-year rotations were determined, with an additional focus on assessing regional potato rotation management. Our results suggest corn and soybean are the two most widely planted crops, occurring on 67% and 36% of all agricultural land at least once during the study period. The most frequent two- and three-year crop rotations include corn, soybean, alfalfa, sweet corn, potato, and beans, with continuous corn being the most dominant two- and three-year rotations (13.2% and 8.5% of agricultural land, respectively). While four- and five-year rotations for potato are recommended to combat pest and disease pressure, 23.2% and 65.9% of potato fields returned to that crop in rotation after two and three years, respectively. Furthermore, 5.6% of potato fields were planted continuously with that crop. Given potato’s high nitrogen (N) fertilizer requirements, the prevalence of sandy soils, and ongoing water qualitymore »issues, adopting more widespread use of four- or five-year rotations of potato with crops that require zero or less N fertilizer could reduce groundwater nitrate concentrations and improve water quality.« less
  4. The urban heat island (UHI) effect, the phenomenon by which cities are warmer than rural surroundings, is increasingly important in a rapidly urbanizing and warming world, but fine-scale differences in temperature within cities are difficult to observe accurately. Networks of air temperature (Tair) sensors rarely offer the spatial density needed to capture neighborhood-level disparities in warming, while satellite measures of land surface temperature (LST) do not reflect the air temperatures that people physically experience. This analysis combines both Tair measurements recorded by a spatially-dense stationary sensor network in Dane County, Wisconsin, and remotely-sensed measurements of LST over the same area—to improve the use and interpretation of LST in UHI studies. The data analyzed span three summer months (June, July, and August) and eight years (2012–2019). Overall, Tair and LST displayed greater agreement in spatial distribution than in magnitude. The relationship between day of the year and correlation was fit to a parabolic curve (R2 = 0.76, p = 0.0002) that peaked in late July. The seasonal evolution in the relationship between Tair and LST, along with particularly high variability in LST across agricultural land cover suggest that plant phenology contributes to a seasonally varying relationship between Tair and LST measurementsmore »of the UHI.« less
  5. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) specifies the use of biofuels in the United States and thereby guides nearly half of all global biofuel production, yet outcomes of this keystone climate and environmental regulation remain unclear. Here we combine econometric analyses, land use observations, and biophysical models to estimate the realized effects of the RFS in aggregate and down to the scale of individual agricultural fields across the United States. We find that the RFS increased corn prices by 30% and the prices of other crops by 20%, which, in turn, expanded US corn cultivation by 2.8 Mha (8.7%) and total cropland by 2.1 Mha (2.4%) in the years following policy enactment (2008 to 2016). These changes increased annual nationwide fertilizer use by 3 to 8%, increased water quality degradants by 3 to 5%, and caused enough domestic land use change emissions such that the carbon intensity of corn ethanol produced under the RFS is no less than gasoline and likely at least 24% higher. These tradeoffs must be weighed alongside the benefits of biofuels as decision-makers consider the future of renewable energy policies and the potential for fuels like corn ethanol to meet climate mitigation goals.
  6. Abstract

    In their recent contribution, Scullyet al(2021Environ. Res. Lett.16043001) review and revise past life cycle assessments of corn-grain ethanol’s carbon (C) intensity to suggest that a current ‘central best estimate’ is considerably less than all prior estimates. Their conclusion emerges from selection and recombination of sector-specific greenhouse gas emission predictions from disparate studies in a way that disproportionately favors small values and optimistic assumptions without rigorous justification nor empirical support. Their revisions most profoundly reduce predicted land use change (LUC) emissions, for which they propose a central estimate that is roughly half the smallest comparable value they review (figure 1). This LUC estimate represents the midpoint of (a) values retained after filtering the predictions of past studies based on a set of unfounded criteria; and (b) a new estimate they generate for domestic (i.e. U.S.) LUC emissions. The filter the authors apply endorses a singular means of LUC assessment which they assert as the ‘best practice’ despite a recent unacknowledged review (Malinset al2020J. Clean. Prod.258120716) that shows this method almost certainly underestimates LUC. Moreover, their domestic C intensity estimate surprisingly suggests that cropland expansion newly sequesters soil C, counter to ecological theory and empirical evidence. These issues, among others, provemore »to grossly underestimate the C intensity of corn-grain ethanol and mischaracterize the state of our science at the risk of perversely affecting policy outcomes.

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