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  1. Abstract

    The impact of climate on topography, which is a theme in landscape evolution studies, has been demonstrated, mostly, at mountain range scales and across climate zones. However, in drylands, spatiotemporal discontinuities of rainfall and the crucial role of extreme rainstorms raise questions and challenges in identifying climate properties that govern surface processes. Here, we combine methods to examine hyperarid escarpment sensitivity to storm‐scale forcing. Using a high‐resolution DEM and field measurements, we analyzed the topography of a 40‐km‐long escarpment in the Negev desert (Israel). We also used rainfall intensity data from a convection‐permitting numerical weather model for storm‐scale statistical analysis. We conducted hydrological simulations of synthetic rainstorms, revealing the frequency of sediment mobilization along the sub‐cliff slopes. Results show that cliff gradients along the hyperarid escarpment increase systematically from the wetter (90 mm yr−1) southwestern to the drier (45 mm yr−1) northeastern sides. Also, sub‐cliff slopes at the southwestern study site are longer and associated with milder gradients and coarser sediments. Storm‐scale statistical analysis reveals a trend of increasing extreme (>10 years return‐period) intensities toward the northeast site, opposite to the trend in mean annual rainfall. Hydrological simulations based on these statistics indicate a higher frequency of sediment mobilization in the northeast, which can explain the pronounced topographic differences between the sites. The variations in landscape and rainstorm properties across a relatively short distance highlight the sensitivity of arid landforms to extreme events.

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  2. Abstract

    Assessing rivers' and hillslopes' sensitivity to external forcing is paramount to understand landscape evolution, in particular as a response to Quaternary climate changes. River networks are usually considered to be the main conveyors of environmental signals, such as changes in precipitation, temperature, or baselevel. Yet because hillslopes provide the source of sediment for river networks, their response to environmental change also modulates landscape dynamics. In order to characterize such behavior, we analyze the response times of a transport‐limited hillslope. We use simple numerical models of denudation to study hillslope responses to oscillatory forcing and understand their filtering effects on environmental signals. Modifications in the frequency of climate oscillation, such as the change that occurred at the Mid‐Pleistocene Transition, can significantly modulate hillslope sediment‐flux response. We infer a wide range of hillslope responses, ranging from negligible change over the full range of climate‐forcing frequencies, to a significant filtering of long‐period signals.

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  3. Abstract

    The hydrologic dynamics and geomorphic evolution of watersheds are intimately coupled—runoff generation and water storage are controlled by topography and properties of the surface and subsurface, while also affecting the evolution of those properties over geologic time. However, the large disparity between their timescales has made it difficult to examine interdependent controls on emergent hydrogeomorphic properties, such as hillslope length, drainage density, and extent of surface saturation. In this study, we develop a new model coupling hydrology and landscape evolution to explore how runoff generation affects long‐term catchment evolution, and analyze numerical results using a nondimensional scaling framework. We focus on hydrologic processes dominating in humid climates where storm runoff primarily arises from shallow subsurface flow and from precipitation on saturated areas. The model solves hydraulic groundwater equations to predict the water‐table elevation given prescribed, constant groundwater recharge. Water in excess of the subsurface capacity for transport becomes overland flow, which generates shear stress on the surface and may detach and transport sediment. This affects the landscape form that in turn affects runoff generation. We show that (a) four dimensionless parameters describe the possible steady state landscapes that coevolve under steady recharge; (b) hillslope length increases with increasing transmissivity relative to the recharge rate; (c) three topographic metrics—steepness index, Laplacian curvature, and topographic index—together provide a basis for interpreting landscapes that have coevolved with runoff generated via shallow subsurface flow. Finally we discuss the possibilities and limitations for quantitative comparisons between the model results and real landscapes.

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  4. Abstract

    Long‐term erosion can threaten infrastructure and buried waste, with consequences for management of natural systems. We develop erosion projections over 10 ky for a 5 km2watershed in New York, USA. Because there is no single landscape evolution model appropriate for the study site, we assess uncertainty in projections associated withmodel structureby considering a set of alternative models, each with a slightly different governing equation. In addition to model structure uncertainty, we consider the following uncertainty sources: selection of a final model set; each model's parameter values estimated through calibration; simulation boundary conditions such as the future incision of downstream rivers and future climate; and initial conditions (e.g., site topography which may undergo near‐term anthropogenic modification). We use an analysis‐of‐variance approach to assess and partition uncertainty in projected erosion into the variance attributable to each source. Our results suggest one sixth of the watershed will experience erosion exceeding 5 m in the next 10 ky. Uncertainty in projected erosion increases with time, and the projection uncertainty attributable to each source manifests in a distinct spatial pattern. Model structure uncertainty is relatively low, which reflects our ability to constrain parameter values and reduce the model set through calibration to the recent geologic past. Beyond site‐specific findings, our work demonstrates what information prediction‐under‐uncertainty studies can provide about geomorphic systems. Our results represent the first application of a comprehensive multi‐model uncertainty analysis for long‐term erosion forecasting.

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  5. Abstract

    Generalizable relationships for how subdaily rainfall statistics imprint into runoff statistics are lacking. We use the Colorado Front Range, known for destructive rainfall‐triggered floods and landslides, to assess whether orographic patterns in runoff generation are a direct consequence of rainstorm climatology. Climatological analysis relies on a dense network of tipping‐bucket rain gauges and gridded precipitation frequency estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to evaluate relationships among subdaily rainfall statistics, topography, and flood frequency throughout the South Platte River basin. We find that event‐scale rainfall statistics only weakly depend on elevation, suggesting that orographic gradients in runoff “extremes” are not simply a consequence of rainfall patterns. In contrast, bedrock exposure strongly varies with elevation in a way that plausibly explains enhanced runoff generation at lower elevations via reduced water storage capacity. These findings are suggestive of feedbacks between bedrock river evolution and hillslope hydrology not typically included in models of landscape evolution.

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  6. Summary

    Scholars worldwide leverage science gateways/virtual research environments (VREs) for a wide variety of research and education endeavors spanning diverse scientific fields. Evaluating the value of a given science gateway/VRE to its constituent community is critical in obtaining the financial and human resources necessary to sustain operations and increase adoption in the user community. In this article, we feature a variety of exemplar science gateways/VREs and detail how they define impact in terms of, for example, their purpose, operation principles, and size of user base. Further, the exemplars recognize that their science gateways/VREs will continuously evolve with technological advancements and standards in cloud computing platforms, web service architectures, data management tools and cybersecurity. Correspondingly, we present a number of technology advances that could be incorporated in next‐generation science gateways/VREs to enhance their scope and scale of their operations for greater success/impact. The exemplars are selected from owners of science gateways in the Science Gateways Community Institute (SGCI) clientele in the United States, and from the owners of VREs in the International Virtual Research Environment Interest Group (VRE‐IG) of the Research Data Alliance. Thus, community‐driven best practices and technology advances are compiled from diverse expert groups with an international perspective to envisage futuristic science gateway/VRE innovations.

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  7. Key Points Modeled ecosystem response to climate follows the “geo‐ecological law of distribution,” highlights the importance of ecohdyrologic refugia Woody Plant Encroachment is predicted as a three‐phase phenomenon: early establishment, rapid expansion, and woody plant equilibrium Regime shifts from grassland to shrubland are marked by vegetation cover thresholds 
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