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Hydrology of Semi-Arid Regions, Natural Resources and their Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Soil Conservation and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 9267

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
UFP Energy, Environment and Health Research Unit (FP-ENAS), University Fernando Pessoa, 4249-004 Porto, Portugal
Interests: water resources management; semiarid regions hydrology; hydrologic processes; climate change; hydrologic modeling; water quality
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Departamento de Engenharia Agrícola, Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido, 59 625 900 Mossoró, RN, Brasil
Interests: soil and water conservation; semiarid regions hydrology; climatology; environmental resilience; eco-hydrology; erosion; tropical dry forest

Special Issue Information

Dear Collegues, 

Semi-arid regions show high rainfall spatial and temporal variability and an aridity index between 0.2 and 0.5. These regions represent 15% of the total land area, and are home to 14% of the global population. Anthropogenic activities and climate change pose a challenge for extreme hydrologic events management, and inflict a continuous pressure on natural resources—soil degradation, erosion, salinity, and low soil organic carbon content—to attend the demand for goods and services, threatening the livelihoods of the population and causing migration. Some questions need to be addressed: How can we use eco-hydrology to mitigate the effects of water scarcity in a semi-arid environment? How do the regional effects of climate change impact the hydrologic response in semi-arid regions? What are the main features of the coevolution of humans and water in drylands? How can we improve social development under the uncertainties of a dry ecosystem? How can we improve ecosystem services and hydrologic resilience? What are the main bidirecional feedbacks observed in the human–water system in drylands? Knowledge of the ecosystem response (sensitivity, vulnerability, and resilience) to hydrologic processes’ interdependence, soil matrix, vegetation dynamics, and other system components, may support decision making on natural resource management towards resilience and sustainability under a changing climate.

Semi-arid regions experience pressure on their natural resources and fragile ecosystems. Climate change and population growth may compromise products and ecosystem services, either by destroying forests, degrading soil and water quality, and/or challenging food safety. Mitigation actions for semi-arid regions shall focus on improving resilience to water scarcity to attend to changing ecosystems and anthropogenic demands for ecosystem services.

This Special Issue aims to publish high-quality research papers on the interdisciplinary fields of hydrology, natural resources and sustainability to support decision making towards the provision of ecosystem services to improve livelihood in semi-arid regions.

Prof. Maria João Simas Guerreiro
Prof. Eunice M. Maia de Andrade
Guest Editors

Keywords

  • eco-hydrology
  • social hydrology
  • environmental services
  • sustainable development
  • climate action
  • rural development
  • dry environment

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 1787 KiB  
Article
Minimum Rainfall Inter-Event Time to Separate Rainfall Events in a Low Latitude Semi-Arid Environment
by José Bandeira Brasil, Maria Simas Guerreiro, Eunice Maia de Andrade, Helba Araújo de Queiroz Palácio, Pedro Henrique Augusto Medeiros and Jacques Carvalho Ribeiro Filho
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1721; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031721 - 2 Feb 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2317
Abstract
Water scarcity in dry tropical regions is expected to intensify due to climate change. Characterization of rainfall events is needed for a better assessment of the associated hydrological processes, and the proposition of adaptation strategies. There is still no consensus on the most [...] Read more.
Water scarcity in dry tropical regions is expected to intensify due to climate change. Characterization of rainfall events is needed for a better assessment of the associated hydrological processes, and the proposition of adaptation strategies. There is still no consensus on the most appropriate method to separate rainfall events from a continuous database, although the minimum inter-event time (MIET) is a commonly used criterion. Semi-arid regions of low latitudes hold a distinct rainfall pattern compared to their equivalent at higher latitudes; these seasonally dry tropical forests experience strong spatial–temporal variability with intense short-duration rainfall events, which, in association with high energy surplus and potential evaporation, leads to an atmospheric water deficit. In this study, we identified the most adequate MIET based on rainfall data continuously measured at 5-min intervals over the last decade (2009–2020) in the semi-arid northeast of Brazil. The rainfall events were grouped according to different MIETs: 15 min, 1 h, 2 h, 3 h, 6 h, 12 h, and 24 h to determine rainfall depth, duration and intensity at intervals of 5, 30, and 60 min, time between events, and respective temporal distribution, with and without single tip events. Including single tip events in the dataset affected the number of rainfall events and respective characteristics up to a MIET of 3 h. A MIET of 6 h is the most appropriate to characterize the rainfall distribution in this tropical semi-arid region. Three classes were defined based on rainfall depth, duration, and intensity: I-small events (77% below 40 mm and 32 mm/h), II-high intensity events (3% between 36 and 76 mm/h), III-longer events of higher depth (20%). This study is useful for understanding how the MIET relates to other ecohydrological processes and provides more precise information on the rainfall characteristics at the event scale. Full article
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16 pages, 5461 KiB  
Article
Climate Data to Predict Geometry of Cracks in Expansive Soils in a Tropical Semiarid Region
by Jacques Carvalho Ribeiro Filho, Eunice Maia de Andrade, Maria Simas Guerreiro, Helba Araujo de Queiroz Palácio and José Bandeira Brasil
Sustainability 2022, 14(2), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14020675 - 8 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1629
Abstract
The nonlinear dynamics of the determining factors of the morphometric characteristics of cracks in expansive soils make their typification a challenge, especially under field conditions. To overcome this difficulty, we used artificial neural networks to estimate crack characteristics in a Vertisol under field [...] Read more.
The nonlinear dynamics of the determining factors of the morphometric characteristics of cracks in expansive soils make their typification a challenge, especially under field conditions. To overcome this difficulty, we used artificial neural networks to estimate crack characteristics in a Vertisol under field conditions. From July 2019 to June 2020, the morphometric characteristics of soil cracks (area, depth and volume), and environmental factors (soil moisture, rainfall, potential evapotranspiration and water balance) were monitored and evaluated in six experimental plots in a tropical semiarid region. Sixty-six events were measured in each plot to calibrate and validate two sets of inputs in the multilayer neural network model. One set was comprised of environmental factors with significant correlations with the morphometric characteristics of cracks in the soil. The other included only those with a significant high and very high correlation, reducing the number of variables by 35%. The set with the significant high and very high correlations showed greater accuracy in predicting crack characteristics, implying that it is preferable to have fewer variables with a higher correlation than to have more variables of lower correlation in the model. Both sets of data showed a good performance in predicting area and depth of cracks in the soils with a clay content above 30%. The highest dispersion of modeled over predicted values for all morphometric characteristics was in soils with a sand content above 40%. The model was successful in evaluating crack characteristics from environmental factors within its limitations and may support decisions on watershed management in view of climate-change scenarios. Full article
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12 pages, 1831 KiB  
Article
Impact of Social and Economic Development on Sediment Load of the Yellow River
by Guangming Tan, Shasha Han, Yuecong Yu, Rui Hu, Yiwei Lv and Caiwen Shu
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7976; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147976 - 16 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1612
Abstract
Approximately 90% of the sediment yield of the Yellow River is derived from the Loess Plateau. In this paper, the Loess Plateau was used as the research object. To investigate the influence of economic and social development on reducing sediment load of the [...] Read more.
Approximately 90% of the sediment yield of the Yellow River is derived from the Loess Plateau. In this paper, the Loess Plateau was used as the research object. To investigate the influence of economic and social development on reducing sediment load of the Yellow River, a mathematical method was employed with hydrological and sediment data from three hydrological stations (Toudaoguai and Sanmenxia at the Yellow River, and Ganguyi at the Yan River) as well as per capita GDP data from the Yan River basin. The results showed that the reduction in runoff in the reaches between the Toudaoguai and Sanmenxia stations accounted for 39.3% of the decrease in the sediment load of the Yellow River, and the other 60.7% of the decrease may have resulted from economic and social development. Using the Yan River basin as an example, there was an inverse relationship between per capita GDP and sediment delivery during the period from 1984 to 2018. Grey relational analysis revealed a relatively high relation between the sediment load of the Yan River and the number of rural laborers transferred from the area, the afforestation area, and the tertiary industry value of Yan’an city. Thus, economic development and social transformation are highly related to sediment delivery in the basin, which may result in a decrease in sediment delivery to some extent. Full article
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28 pages, 8014 KiB  
Article
Modelling Small-Scale Storage Interventions in Semi-Arid India at the Basin Scale
by Robyn Horan, Pawan S. Wable, Veena Srinivasan, Helen E. Baron, Virginie J. D. Keller, Kaushal K. Garg, Nathan Rickards, Mike Simpson, Helen A. Houghton-Carr and H. Gwyn Rees
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6129; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116129 - 29 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2627
Abstract
There has been renewed interest in the performance, functionality, and sustainability of traditional small-scale storage interventions (check dams, farm bunds and tanks) used within semi-arid regions for the improvement of local water security and landscape preservation. The Central Groundwater Board of India is [...] Read more.
There has been renewed interest in the performance, functionality, and sustainability of traditional small-scale storage interventions (check dams, farm bunds and tanks) used within semi-arid regions for the improvement of local water security and landscape preservation. The Central Groundwater Board of India is encouraging the construction of such interventions for the alleviation of water scarcity and to improve groundwater recharge. It is important for water resource management to understand the hydrological effect of these interventions at the basin scale. The quantification of small-scale interventions in hydrological modelling is often neglected, especially in large-scale modelling activities, as data availability is low and their hydrological functioning is uncertain. A version of the Global Water Availability Assessment (GWAVA) water resources model was developed to assess the impact of interventions on the water balance of the Cauvery Basin and two smaller sub-catchments. Model results demonstrate that farm bunds appear to have a negligible effect on the average annual simulated streamflow at the outlets of the two sub-catchments and the basin, whereas tanks and check dams have a more significant and time varying effect. The open water surface of the interventions contributed to an increase in evaporation losses across the catchment. The change in simulated groundwater storage with the inclusion of interventions was not as significant as catchment-scale literature and field studies suggest. The model adaption used in this study provides a step-change in the conceptualisation and quantification of the consequences of small-scale storage interventions in large- or basin-scale hydrological models. Full article
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