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  1. Abstract The impact of climate extremes upon human settlements is expected to accelerate. There are distinct global trends for a continued rise in urban dwellers and associated infrastructure. This growth is occurring amidst the increasing risk of extreme heat, rainfall, and flooding. Therefore, it is critical that the urban development and architectural communities recognize climate impacts are expected to be experienced globally, but the cities and urban regions they help create are far more vulnerable to these extremes than nonurban regions. Designing resilient human settlements responding to climate change needs an integrated framework. The critical elements at play are climate extremes, economic growth, human mobility, and livability. Heightened public awareness of extreme weather crises and demands for a more moral climate landscape has promoted the discussion of urban climate change ethics. With the growing urgency for considering environmental justice, we need to consider a transparent, data-driven geospatial design approach that strives to balance environmental justice, climate, and economic development needs. Communities can greatly manage their vulnerabilities under climate extremes and enhance their resilience through appropriate design and planning towards long-term stability. A holistic picture of urban climate science is thus needed to be adopted by urban designers and planners asmore »a principle to guide urban development strategy and environmental regulation in the context of a growingly interdependent world.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Ecology and the climate provide two perspectives of the same biogeophysical system at all spatiotemporal scales More effectively embracing this congruence is an opportunity to improve scientific understanding and predictions as well as for a more effective policy that integrates both the bottom-up community, business-driven framework, and the popular, top-down impact assessment framework. The objective of this paper is, therefore, to more closely integrate the diverse spectrum of scientists, engineers and policymakers into finding optimal solutions to reduce the risk to environmental and social threats by considering the ecology and climate as an integrated system. Assessments such as performed towards the 2030 Plan for Sustainable Development, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its Goal 13 in particular, can achieve more progress by accounting for the intimate connection of all aspects of the Earth’s biogeophysical system.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 11, 2023
  4. Risks from human intervention in the climate system are raising concerns with respect to individual species and ecosystem health and resiliency. A dominant approach uses global climate models to predict changes in climate in the coming decades and then to downscale this information to assess impacts to plant communities, animal habitats, agricultural and urban ecosystems, and other parts of the Earth’s life system. To achieve robust assessments of the threats to these systems in this top-down, outcome vulnerability approach, however, requires skillful prediction, and representation of changes in regional and local climate processes, which has not yet been satisfactorily achieved. Moreover, threats to biodiversity and ecosystem function, such as from invasive species, are in general, not adequately included in the assessments. We discuss a complementary assessment framework that builds on a bottom-up vulnerability concept that requires the determination of the major human and natural forcings on the environment including extreme events, and the interactions between these forcings. After these forcings and interactions are identified, then the relative risks of each issue can be compared with other risks or forcings in order to adopt optimal mitigation/adaptation strategies. This framework is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including climate variability andmore »longer-term natural and anthropogenic-driven change, than the outcome vulnerability approach which is mainly based on multi-decadal global and regional climate model predictions. We therefore conclude that the top-down approach alone is outmoded as it is inadequate for robustly assessing risks to biodiversity and ecosystem function. In contrast the bottom-up, integrative approach is feasible and much more in line with the needs of the assessment and conservation community. A key message of our paper is to emphasize the need to consider coupled feedbacks since the Earth is a dynamically interactive system. This should be done not just in the model structure, but also in its application and subsequent analyses. We recognize that the community is moving toward that goal and we urge an accelerated pace.« less
  5. Abstract

    Anthropogenic changes are likely to intensify rainfall extremes, posing a risk to human, environmental and urban systems. Understanding the impact of urbanization on rainfall extremes is critical for both reliable climate projections as well as sustainable urban development. This study presents the unexplored impacts of changes arising in urban areas on rainfall extremes over the Contiguous United States. The results show a 2.7-fold higher probability of exceeding a 25% change in 50 year rainfall events over urban areas than over rural areas. Spatially, the changes in rainfall extremes over the central, northeast central, southeast, and northwest central zones were more pronounced due to urbanization. Statistical analyses highlight a positive relationship between changes in rainfall extremes and urbanization within a set of concentric ring buffers around rain gauge stations. Here, we show that urbanization, even though a local feature, influences the mesoscale meteorological setting; and, is statistically associated with an intensification of rainfall extremes across the Contiguous United States.

  6. Abstract Fire is an integral component of ecosystems globally and a tool that humans have harnessed for millennia. Altered fire regimes are a fundamental cause and consequence of global change, impacting people and the biophysical systems on which they depend. As part of the newly emerging Anthropocene, marked by human-caused climate change and radical changes to ecosystems, fire danger is increasing, and fires are having increasingly devastating impacts on human health, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. Increasing fire danger is a vexing problem that requires deep transdisciplinary, trans-sector, and inclusive partnerships to address. Here, we outline barriers and opportunities in the next generation of fire science and provide guidance for investment in future research. We synthesize insights needed to better address the long-standing challenges of innovation across disciplines to (i) promote coordinated research efforts; (ii) embrace different ways of knowing and knowledge generation; (iii) promote exploration of fundamental science; (iv) capitalize on the “firehose” of data for societal benefit; and (v) integrate human and natural systems into models across multiple scales. Fire science is thus at a critical transitional moment. We need to shift from observation and modeled representations of varying components of climate, people, vegetation, and fire to more integrativemore »and predictive approaches that support pathways towards mitigating and adapting to our increasingly flammable world, including the utilization of fire for human safety and benefit. Only through overcoming institutional silos and accessing knowledge across diverse communities can we effectively undertake research that improves outcomes in our more fiery future.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 4, 2023