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  1. Maritime transportation is crucial to national economic development as it offers a low-cost, safe, and efficient alternative for movement of freight compared to its land or air counterparts. River and channel dredging protocols are often adopted in many ports and harbors of the world to meet the increasing demand for freight and ensure safe passage of larger vessels. However, such protocols may have unintended adverse consequences on flood risks and functioning of coastal ecosystems and thereby compromising the valuable services they provide to society and the environment. This study analyzes the compound effects of dredging protocols under a range of terrestrial and coastal flood drivers, including the effects of sea level rise (SLR) on compound flood risk, vessel navigability, and coastal wetland inundation dynamics in Mobile Bay (MB), Alabama. We develop a set of hydrodynamic simulation scenarios for a range of river flow and coastal water level regimes, SLR projections, and dredging protocols designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We show that channel dredging helps increase bottom (‘underkeel’) clearances by a factor of 3.33 under current mean sea level and from 4.20 to 4.60 under SLR projections. We find that both low and high water surface elevations (WSEs)more »could be detrimental, with low WSE (< -1.22 m) hindering safe navigation whereas high WSE (> 0.87 m) triggering minor to major flooding in the surrounding urban and wetland areas. Likewise, we identify complex inundation patterns emerging from nonlinear interactions of SLR, flood drivers, and dredging protocols, and additionally estimate probability density functions (PDFs) of wetland inundation. We show that changes in mean sea level due to SLR diminish any effects of channel dredging on wetland inundation dynamics and shift the PDFs beyond pre-established thresholds for moderate and major flooding. In light of our results, we recommend the need for integrated analyses that account for compound effects on vessel navigation and wetland inundation, and provide insights into environmental-friendly solutions for increasing cargo transportation.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 18, 2023
  2. Rates of poverty and economic inequality in rural Alabama are among the nation's highest and increasing agricultural productivity can provide a needed boost to these communities. The transition from rain-fed to irrigation-fed (RFtoIF) agriculture has significantly increased farm productivity and profitability elsewhere in the United States. Despite this potential to enhance stability and resilience in rural economies, irrigated cropland accounts for only 5% of Alabama's total cropland as numerous barriers remain to irrigation adoption. To encourage RFtoIF transition, it is imperative to identify the challenges faced by individual farmers at farm, community, and state levels. This study presents a multi-level mixed effects survival analysis to identify the physiographic, socioecological, and economic factors that influence the location and timing of irrigation adoption. We integrate spatiotemporal cropland and climatological data with field-verified locations of center-pivot irrigation systems, local physiographic characteristics, and parcel-level surface water access and average well depth. Access to surface water, costs to access groundwater, and soil characteristics were generally important influences in all regions, but regions were differentiated by the extent to which new irrigation was more responsive to social influences vs. precipitation and price trends. Our findings also highlighted the diversity of farming conditions across the state, whichmore »suggested that diverse policy tools are needed that acknowledge the varying motivations and constraints faced by Alabama's farmers.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 7, 2023
  3. Abstract In the wake of climate change, extreme events such as heatwaves are considered to be key players in the terrestrial biosphere. In the past decades, the frequency and severity of heatwaves have risen substantially, and they are projected to continue to intensify in the future. One key question is therefore: how do changes in extreme heatwaves affect the carbon cycle? Although soil respiration (Rs) is the second largest contributor to the carbon cycle, the impacts of heatwaves on Rs have not been fully understood. Using a unique set of continuous high frequency in-situ measurements from our field site, we characterize the relationship between Rs and heatwaves. We further compare the Rs response to heatwaves across ten additional sites spanning the contiguous United States (CONUS). Applying a probabilistic framework, we conclude that during heatwaves Rs rates increase significantly, on average, by ~ 26% relative to that of non-heatwave conditions over the CONUS. Since previous in-situ observations have not measured the Rs response to heatwaves (e.g., rate, amount) at the high frequency that we present here, the terrestrial feedback to the carbon cycle may be underestimated without capturing these high frequency extreme heatwave events.
  4. Earthen levees protecting coastal regions can be exposed to compound flooding induced by multiple drivers such as coastal water level, river discharge, and precipitation. However, the majority of flood hazard analyses consider only one flood driver at a time. This study numerically investigates the performance of an earthen levee in Sherman Island, Sacramento, CA, under compound flooding induced by fluvial and pluvial flooding. A finite element model is built for fully coupled 3D stress-flow simulations of the levee. The finite element model is then used to simulate the hydro-mechanical response of the levee under different flood scenarios. Fluvial flood hydrographs for different scenarios are obtained using a bivariate extreme analysis of peak river discharge and peak ocean level while accounting for the significance of correlation between these two variables. Pluvial flooding is characterized using intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves of extreme precipitations for the study area. The fluvial and pluvial flood patterns for different recurrence intervals are used in the finite element model to simulate the hydro-mechanical response of the levee. Results show that considering compound flooding leads to 8.7% and 18.6% reduction in the factor of safety for 2 and 50-year recurrence intervals, respectively.