Research articles

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  • Producing sufficient food to support the planet’s growing population places enormous strain on critical ecosystems. Quantifying and mapping the individual and cumulative pressures from greenhouse gases, freshwater use, habitat disturbance and nutrient pollution provides crucial insight into producing lower-impact, more sustainable foods.

    • Benjamin S. Halpern
    • Melanie Frazier
    • David R. Williams
  • More efficient use of solar energy can help the transition to a sustainable energy system. Here the authors show that a plasmonic CuS/CdS heterostructure can convert infrared radiation to visible light, driving oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde and photocatalytic hydrogen evolution, with stable activities for one week.

    • Zichao Lian
    • Yoichi Kobayashi
    • Masanori Sakamoto
  • Membranes are at the heart of various technologies for water, energy and other sustainability relevant areas. Here the authors show a synthetic route to a polymeric membrane that breaks the conductivity–selectivity trade-off and enables exciting performance in a vanadium flow battery.

    • Yongsheng Xia
    • Hongyan Cao
    • Zhi Xu
  • Wildfire increases are worsening air quality in many regions, undoing gains in pollution control. This study finds that across the United States, exposure to fine particulates in wildfire smoke worsened test scores, especially among younger students, and that most costs are borne by disadvantaged districts.

    • Jeff Wen
    • Marshall Burke
  • Early warnings of impending food crises can provide valuable time to mitigate their worst impacts, but droughts have proven difficult to predict. Soil moisture autocorrelation measured by remote sensing satellites advances our ability to anticipate food security crises resulting from drought.

    • P. Krishna Krishnamurthy R
    • Joshua B. Fisher
    • Peter M. Kareiva
  • Understanding the connection between economic inequality and climate change requires rich and reliable data. This study combines recently assembled data on income and wealth inequality with environmental data to shed light on the uneven individual contributions to climate change across the world.

    • Lucas Chancel
  • Biodiverse upland Amazonian rainforest is being lost from continued conversion to cropland and pasture. This study combines satellite and household survey data from the Peruvian Amazon to find that access to floodplains reduces clearing of upland forests around riverine communities.

    • Oliver T. Coomes
    • Yoshito Takasaki
    • Christian Abizaid
  • Coastal cities face a compound threat from relative sea-level rise and land subsidence; however, local land subsidence rates are spatially variable and can be difficult to quantify. Remote interferometric radar observations allow high-resolution estimations of local land subsidence to better inform the future of major coastal cities.

    • Cheryl Tay
    • Eric O. Lindsey
    • Emma M. Hill
  • In the scramble to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, many nations are examining their agriculture and land-use sectors. In Ireland, while net-zero emissions by 2050 are feasible through a reduction in meat and dairy production and smart land management, carbon neutrality beyond 2050 may prove fleeting.

    • Colm Duffy
    • Remi Prudhomme
    • David Styles
  • Sand has become an increasingly scarce critical resource. As a result of changing climate, Greenland now receives large deposits of glacially derived sand along its coasts. Local communities broadly support domestic, environmentally mindful economic sand extraction.

    • Mette Bendixen
    • Rasmus Leander Nielsen
    • Kelton Minor
  • Protected areas (PAs) are not completely halting biodiversity loss, according to growing evidence. This study shows the limited effectiveness of a large network of PAs despite favourable socio-economic context and high conservation efforts, suggesting that PA functional design matters beyond increasing resources.

    • Tsegaye T. Gatiso
    • Lars Kulik
    • Hjalmar S. Kühl
  • Determining the safe operating space for sustainable food production depends on the interactions of multiple processes within the Earth system. Expert knowledge provides critical insight into how these processes interact that improves Earth system modelling and our understanding of the limits of global food production.

    • Anna Chrysafi
    • Vili Virkki
    • Matti Kummu
    Article Open Access
  • With a growing demand for minerals, protected areas (PAs) are under pressure to allow mining activities. This study examines the impacts of five policy scenarios under which combinations of PAs allow mining in the Brazilian Amazon, and shows the need for long-term planning to safeguard biodiversity.

    • Juliana Siqueira-Gay
    • Jean Paul Metzger
    • Laura J. Sonter
  • While fears of ‘water wars’ have been publicized in recent years, this Article illustrates the complexities surrounding resource availability and socio-political dynamics that may induce, or prevent, conflicts over water in arid landscapes.

    • Nikolas Galli
    • Jampel Dell’Angelo
    • Maria Cristina Rulli
  • Urban regions are growing rapidly worldwide, threatening surrounding habitats, including in drylands. This study finds that indirect impacts to surrounding drylands are more than ten times greater than direct impacts and that such impacted areas contain almost 60% of threatened species globally.

    • Qiang Ren
    • Chunyang He
    • Burak Güneralp