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Earth, Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2024) – 5 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In a groundbreaking study, we explore the escalating threat of heat waves in Ecuador’s diverse climatic zones through the lens of the HadGEM-RegCM4 coupled model. Our analysis reveals alarming trends for the 1975–2004 and 2070–2099 periods under various Representative Concentration Pathways scenarios. The Coastal Highlands and Amazon regions face significant increases in heatwave intensity and maximum air temperatures, particularly under the severe RCP 8.5 scenario. With a moderate positive correlation between temperature maxima and climate indices like the PDO and ONI, the study emphasizes the urgent need for comprehensive climate adaptation strategies in Ecuador. These strategies include urban forestry and the promotion of cool surfaces to mitigate risks to health, agriculture, and ecosystems, spotlighting the pressing challenge of climate change in Latin America. View this paper
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20 pages, 37966 KiB  
Article
Projected Heat Waves in Ecuador under Climate Change: Insights from HadGEM-RegCM4 Coupled Model
by Diego Portalanza, Carlos Ortega, Liliam Garzon, Melissa Bello, Cristian Felipe Zuluaga, Caroline Bresciani, Angelica Durigon and Simone Ferraz
Earth 2024, 5(1), 90-109; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth5010005 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 843
Abstract
This study examines heat wave projections across Ecuador’s Coastal, Highlands, and Amazon regions for 1975–2004 and 2070–2099 under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) scenarios 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5. Employing dynamic downscaling, we identify significant increases in heatwave intensity and maximum air temperatures ( [...] Read more.
This study examines heat wave projections across Ecuador’s Coastal, Highlands, and Amazon regions for 1975–2004 and 2070–2099 under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) scenarios 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5. Employing dynamic downscaling, we identify significant increases in heatwave intensity and maximum air temperatures (Tmax), particularly under RCP 8.5, with the Coastal region facing the most severe impacts. A moderate positive correlation between Tmax and climate indices such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) suggests regional climatic influences on heatwave trends. These findings highlight the critical need for integrated climate adaptation strategies in Ecuador, focusing on mitigating risks to health, agriculture, and ecosystems. Proposed measures include urban forestry initiatives and the promotion of cool surfaces, alongside enhancing public awareness and access to cooling resources. This research contributes to the understanding of climate change impacts in Latin America, underscoring the urgency of adopting targeted adaptation and resilience strategies against urban heat island effects in Ecuador’s urban centers. Full article
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18 pages, 40104 KiB  
Article
Resilience of an Urban Coastal Ecosystem in the Caribbean: A Remote Sensing Approach in Western Puerto Rico
by Yadiel Noel Bonilla-Roman and Salvador Francisco Acuña-Guzman
Earth 2024, 5(1), 72-89; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth5010004 - 10 Feb 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1180
Abstract
Utilization of remote sensing-derived meteorological data is a valuable alternative for tropical insular territories such as Puerto Rico (PR). The study of ecosystem resilience in insular territories is an underdeveloped area of investigation. Little research has focused on studying how an ecosystem in [...] Read more.
Utilization of remote sensing-derived meteorological data is a valuable alternative for tropical insular territories such as Puerto Rico (PR). The study of ecosystem resilience in insular territories is an underdeveloped area of investigation. Little research has focused on studying how an ecosystem in PR responds to and recovers from unique meteorological events (e.g., hurricanes). This work aims to investigate how an ecosystem in Western Puerto Rico responds to extreme climate events and fluctuations, with a specific focus on evaluating its innate resilience. The Antillean islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic are vulnerable to intense weather phenomena, such as hurricanes. Due to the distinct tropical conditions inherent to this region, and the ongoing urban development of coastal areas, their ecosystems are constantly affected. Key indicators, including gross primary production (GPP), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), actual evapotranspiration (ET), and land surface temperature (LST), are examined to comprehend the interplay between these factors within the context of the Culebrinas River Watershed (CRW) ecosystem over the past decade during the peak of hurricane season. Data processing and analyses were performed on datasets provided by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Landsat 8–9 OLI TRIS, supplemented by information sourced from Puerto Rico Water and Energy Balance (PRWEB)—a dataset derived from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) data. The findings revealed a complex interrelationship among atmospheric events and anthropogenic activities within the CRW, a region prone to recurrent atmospheric disruptions. NDVI and ET values from 2015 to 2019 showed the ecosystem’s capacity to recover after a prolonged drought period (2015) and Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017). In 2015, the NDVI average was 0.79; after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the NDVI dropped to 0.6, while in 2019, it had already increased to 0.8. Similarly, average ET values went from 3.2339 kg/m2/day in 2017 to 2.6513 kg/m2/day in 2018. Meanwhile, by 2019, the average ET was estimated to be 3.8105 kg/m2/day. Data geoprocessing of LST, NDVI, GPP, and ET, coupled with correlation analyses, revealed positive correlations among ET, NDVI, and GPP. Our results showed that areas with little anthropogenic impact displayed a more rapid and resilient restoration of the ecosystem. The spatial distribution of vegetation and impervious surfaces further highlights that areas closer to mountains have shown higher resilience while urban coastal areas have faced greater challenges in recovering from atmospheric events, thus showing the importance of preserving native vegetation, particularly mangroves, for long-term ecosystem stability. This study contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamic interactions within urban coastal ecosystems in insular territories, emphasizing their resilience in the context of both natural atmospheric events and human activity. The insights gained from this research offer valuable guidance for managing and safeguarding ecosystems in similar regions characterized by their susceptibility to extreme weather phenomena. Full article
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27 pages, 4830 KiB  
Article
Assessing Post-Monsoon Seasonal Soil Loss over Un-Gauged Stations of the Dwarkeswar and Shilabati Rivers, West Bengal, India
by Ankita Mukherjee, Maya Kumari and Varun Narayan Mishra
Earth 2024, 5(1), 45-71; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth5010003 - 7 Feb 2024
Viewed by 877
Abstract
This study employs the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to evaluate soil loss within the Shilabati and Dwarkeswar River Basin of West Bengal, serving as a pilot investigation into soil erosion levels at ungauged stations during the post-monsoon season. Detailed data [...] Read more.
This study employs the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to evaluate soil loss within the Shilabati and Dwarkeswar River Basin of West Bengal, serving as a pilot investigation into soil erosion levels at ungauged stations during the post-monsoon season. Detailed data for temperature, precipitation, wind speed, solar radiation, and relative humidity for 2000–2022 were collected. A land use map, soil map, and slope map were prepared to execute the model. The model categorizes the watershed region into 19 sub-basins and 227 Hydrological Response Units (HRUs). A detailed study with regard to soil loss was carried out. A detailed examination of soil erosion patterns over four distinct time periods (2003–2007, 2007–2012, 2013–2017, and 2018–2022) indicated variability in soil loss severity across sub-basins. The years 2008–2012, characterized by lower precipitation, witnessed reduced soil erosion. Sub-basins 6, 16, 17, and 19 consistently faced substantial soil loss, while minimal erosion was observed in sub-basins 14 and 18. The absence of a definitive soil loss pattern highlights the region’s susceptibility to climatic variables. Reduced soil erosion from 2018 to 2022 is attributed to diminished precipitation and subsequent lower discharge levels. The study emphasizes the intricate relationship between climatic factors and soil erosion dynamics. Full article
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25 pages, 12308 KiB  
Article
Assessing Groundwater Recharge in the Wabe River Catchment, Central Ethiopia, through a GIS-Based Distributed Water Balance Model
by Gideon Tadesse and Muralitharan Jothimani
Earth 2024, 5(1), 20-44; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth5010002 - 19 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1189
Abstract
The utilization of groundwater has emerged as an indispensable asset in facilitating economic advancement, preserving ecological integrity, and responding to the challenges posed by climate change, especially in regions characterized by aridity and semi-aridity. The sustainable management of water resources requires an assessment [...] Read more.
The utilization of groundwater has emerged as an indispensable asset in facilitating economic advancement, preserving ecological integrity, and responding to the challenges posed by climate change, especially in regions characterized by aridity and semi-aridity. The sustainable management of water resources requires an assessment of the geographical and temporal patterns of groundwater recharge. The present study employed the GIS-based WetSpass-M model to model the water balance components by utilizing hydro-meteorological and biophysical data from the Wabe catchment, which spans an area of 1840 km2 in central Ethiopia, for a long time. The objective of this study was to assess the long-term average annual and seasonal groundwater recharge for the catchment area utilizing the WetSpass-M model. The input data were collected through remote sensing data and surveys in the field. The model was employed to gain insights into the process of groundwater recharge in a particular region and to facilitate effective management, prudent utilization, and sustainable planning of water resources in the long run. Water balance components were estimated using seasonal fluctuations in evapotranspiration, surface runoff, and groundwater recharge. The Wabe catchment’s summer, winter, and mean long-term yearly groundwater recharge were determined to be 125.5 mm, 78.98 mm, and 204.51 mm, respectively. The model indicates that summer seasons account for 86.5% of the mean annual precipitation, while winter seasons account for 13.5%. On the other hand, the groundwater system percolates 14.8% of the total annual rainfall (1374.26 mm). While evapotranspiration accounts for 51% of total precipitation and surface runoff accounts for 34.1%, the Wabe catchment’s mean annual evapotranspiration and surface runoff values are simulated at 701.11 mm and 485.58 mm, respectively. The findings suggest the use of the WetSpass-M model to precisely calculate the water balance components within the Wabe catchment. Full article
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19 pages, 21884 KiB  
Article
Features of Degassing from Overburden Rock Massifs: A Case Study Using Radon
by Timofey Leshukov, Aleksey Larionov, Ekaterina Nastavko, Philipp Kaizer and Konstantin Legoshchin
Earth 2024, 5(1), 1-19; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth5010001 - 25 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1035
Abstract
Overburden rock massifs resulting from open-pit coal mining are very common objects in the world’s mining regions. These locations pose a significant challenge as the global mining industry expands. These dumps are capable of self-burning for quite a long time. The displacement and [...] Read more.
Overburden rock massifs resulting from open-pit coal mining are very common objects in the world’s mining regions. These locations pose a significant challenge as the global mining industry expands. These dumps are capable of self-burning for quite a long time. The displacement and sliding of these massifs can cause catastrophic consequences. In addition, these objects emit a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Therefore, it is necessary to manage such objects and implement appropriate measures to limit their impact on the environment. In this work, we studied soil radon volume activity (VAR) and radon flux density (RFD) on the surface of the overburden rock massif of coal-bearing mining rocks and also made visual fixation of disturbances in the body of the massif, which appeared in the process of its movement. We found anomalies of VAR and RFD on the surface of the overburden extending from north to south. These anomalies were extended along the strike of the faults found in the body of the massif. Additionally, the radon anomalies coincided with the anomalies of methane gas emission previously measured for this object. Thus, we determined that the exit of gases from the body of the massif is carried out through fault (weakened) zones in the body of the massif. According to the results of the study, we propose to carry out radon monitoring in order to detect the spontaneous ignition process of the massif or the increase of its mobility. This will also allow us to take appropriate measures to stabilize the massif or to extinguish the dump before or simultaneously with the biological stage of reclamation. Full article
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