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Volume 12 Issue 11, November 2022

Changing shapes of deserts

The desert landscape is shaped by dunes, which are affected by the direction and strength of winds. Climate change can alter the characteristics of winds and, therefore, dune dynamics. In this issue, Andreas Baas and Lucie Delobel present a global analysis of how the speed and direction of movement as well as the shape of dunes will change in deserts around the world by the end of this century.

See Baas and Delobel and News & Views by Parteli

Image: Pléiades © CNES 2022, Distribution Airbus DS. Cover Design: Valentina Monaco

Editorial

  • Climate change is a confounding factor that can affect agriculture and food security in many different ways. Climate-resilient food systems are needed to ensure food security and to support mitigation efforts.

    Editorial

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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Phasing out carbon-intensive energy sources is crucial for meeting climate targets, but the role of natural gas is increasingly uncertain. For natural gas electricity to be on a net-zero trajectory, all countries in the natural gas electricity value chain must make efforts to cut emissions.

    • Jasmin Cooper
    • Adam Hawkes
    News & Views
  • Global warming is changing monsoon systems, the Hadley circulation and the activity of extratropical cyclones. Now, a study shows how these changes will affect the Earth’s arid sand deserts, with profound implications for the environmental and technological sectors.

    • Eric J. R. Parteli
    News & Views
  • The response of water transfer from the land to the atmosphere under drought is uncertain. Now, research shows that soils and plants paradoxically lose more water during low supply due to greater atmospheric demand.

    • Madeleine Pascolini-Campbell
    News & Views
  • The fate of the massive amount of carbon stored in permafrost peatlands could determine the magnitude of climate change. Observations now show that warming has stimulated Arctic methane emissions in early summer.

    • Kuang-Yu Chang
    News & Views
  • A myriad of aquatic animals migrate daily across strong depth-related temperature and oxygen gradients. Now, research shows that these vertical migrators are particularly sensitive to temperature gradients and that cold waters currently impose an energetic barrier to latitudinal range expansion that may be released under climate change.

    • Juan G. Rubalcaba
    News & Views
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Policy Brief

  • Reforms are required to maintain a healthy and robust flood insurance market under future climate conditions for the United States. Therefore, policymakers should implement premiums that reflect flood risk and incentivize household-level risk reduction, complemented with regional flood adaptation investments.

    • Lars T. de Ruig
    • Toon Haer
    • Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts
    Policy Brief
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Research Briefings

  • The global redistribution of agricultural snowmelt dependence and risks was characterized by integrating sub-annual irrigation water demand with snowmelt runoff dynamics and an international trade model. This analysis highlights the global implications of the risks related to changes in snowmelt under climate change, indicating the wider importance of climate adaptation strategies.

    Research Briefing
  • Temperature projections from global climate models integrated with simple dynamical models suggest that there will be a systematic increase in the extinction risk of insect populations in the twenty-first century. The risks due to warming are amplified when temperature variability is taken into account.

    Research Briefing
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Review Articles

  • In this Review, the authors discuss recent advances in understanding dryland productivity and functions, examining outstanding debates on dryland response to change and the uncertainties associated with predicting climate trajectories.

    • Lixin Wang
    • Wenzhe Jiao
    • Paolo D’Odorico
    Review Article
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Articles

  • The National Flood Insurance Program is a key tool for managing growing flood risk in the USA. This research shows that premiums based on local risk, rather than national averages, will generate large societal benefits, and investments in large-scale adaptation infrastructure will enhance these impacts.

    • Lars T. de Ruig
    • Toon Haer
    • Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts
    Article
  • How sand dunes situated in arid areas change under warming is not well known. Here the authors assess predicted changes in sand-moving wind regimes and find that dune shapes, speeds and directions of movement will probably change in many regions, as well as the potential expansion of sand seas and a reactivation of currently dormant dune fields.

    • Andreas C. W. Baas
    • Lucie A. Delobel
    Article
  • Agriculture dependent on snowmelt will face serious challenges under climate change, which increases risks for countries that import these crop products. Food security and livelihoods in countries heavily exposed to global food trade may be vulnerable even though domestic production is not affected.

    • Yue Qin
    • Chaopeng Hong
    • Nathaniel D. Mueller
    Article
  • The authors use a water balance approach to show that drought-driven evapotranspiration increases are widespread and depend on the magnitude of precipitation and total water shortage anomalies. Earth system models underestimate the probability of drought-driven evapotranspiration increases in drier regions.

    • Meng Zhao
    • Geruo A
    • Alexandra G. Konings
    Article
  • The authors provide long-term observational evidence of an increasing trend of early summer methane emissions from a permafrost site in the Lena River Delta linked to atmospheric warming. This observed trend constitutes a major development given the thick and cold permafrost in the study area.

    • Norman Rößger
    • Torsten Sachs
    • Lars Kutzbach
    Article Open Access
  • The authors project changes in mean thermal stress, as well as its persistence and variability. They show complex impacts on species stability but universal increases in extinction risk, and highlight the need to go beyond average-temperature-based projections of biological performance.

    • Kate Duffy
    • Tarik C. Gouhier
    • Auroop R. Ganguly
    Article Open Access
  • The authors establish machine learning models to identify multifactor tipping points of global marine phytoplankton. They show that temperature and carbon dioxide dominate risks, and project crossing tipping points in tropical area production (50%) and resistance (41%) by 2100 under high emissions.

    • Zhan Ban
    • Xiangang Hu
    • Jinghong Li
    Article
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Analysis

  • Natural gas is seen as a key interim fuel along the pathway to a zero-carbon energy system, yet there is some concern it may delay the transition. This Analysis estimates the life cycle emissions from gas-fired electricity and the abatement potential of different mitigation options.

    • Sarah M. Jordaan
    • Andrew W. Ruttinger
    • Arvind P. Ravikumar
    Analysis
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Amendments & Corrections

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