Resilience in our environment. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)
Here I present a paper from 1998 sharing points of view with my own about the role played by resilience in our environment and our understanding when modelling changes in our ecosystem. However, I would like to extend the meaning of the paper to a broader field which is the role played by resilience in the debate of Human impact in the global ecosystem, trying to close the circle between several posts that I had published previously.
I believe that there is an interrelationship among previous posts in my blog which might well make a point altogether. These posts are interrelated in the difficulty of identifying, and understanding, synergistic interactions between mechanisms of resilience present in our environment, working as much in the environment sustaining life as in the environment sustaining the scientific debate aimed to understand it.
You can either go through those posts and the added comments (you might enjoy the ride or not, but I would appreciate only constructive comments) or just take a look at the paper that I am introducing here.
Overall, in my previous posts I have been aiming to point out the relevance of recognising the role played by mechanisms of resilience in the whole approach towards analysing the impact of the human species development in the ecosystem. I have looked at the mentality applied “Cross pollinators and the risk of specialization the screw and the knife”, “Cultural cognition and the role it plays in polarizing debates“, the methodological approach “Cooking an environment”, “Climate, normal variability or change?”, relevant climatic events, “Climate variability and energy balance”, “Met Office. The Recent Storms and Floods in the UK (Feb 2014)”, and the integration of resilience in the debate “Resilience in our models”, and Resilience in our environment (present post and paper).
Independently from the links that I find with my own points of view, I believe that the following paper is worthy of being known by anybody interested in the subject of environmental impact assessment. I have added a brief part from the conclusions section.
The following paper addresses the challenges of interpreting connections triggering climatic events due to the difficulty of modelling synergistic interactions between environmental mechanisms of resilience affecting the water cycle.
A number of recent sensitivity studies have shown the effects large-scale land cover conversion can have on weather and climate. Plant physiological control of evaporation affects surface energy partitioning and as a result boundary layer temperature, humidity and growth. In turn this can affect rainfall through its effects on the formation of clouds and on the triggering of convection. Ultimately it may also affect synoptic phenomena as the seasonal movements in polar and inter-tropical fronts. Thereby land surface anomalies exert their influence well beyond the region in which they occur. This influence occurs on practically all spatial and time scales, affecting both individual storm events as well as climate transitions following the last glaciation. It occurs at all latitudes, from tropics to sub-polar regions, and both in the continental interiors, as well as at their more marine influenced fringes.
Increased understanding of complex systems does not guarantee we can also predict their fate. Climate change may become virtually unpredictable after inclusion in our models of all possible terrestrial and bio-geo-chemical feedbacks, with their additional non-linearities and thresholds. This would require an entirely new approach to climate change (impact) studies, focusing less on global means, trends and predictions, but more on regional rates, thresholds and resulting risks and options. Methodologies to assess risks and vulnerability need to be developed that take account of interactions and feedbacks between atmospheric, ecological and hydrological processes at different spatial and temporal scales. In the context of water resources this is the central issue in BAHC cross cutting theme B (see appendix).
Having identified the ‘weak spots’ in the earth system in this way we will be better equipped to develop scenarios of future environmental change, and analyse them for threats.