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Special Issue "Advances in Earth System Science"

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A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Benjamin Zaitchik (Website)

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North, Charles Street, 301 Olin Hall, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
Interests: regional climate processes; watershed hydrology; remote sensing; water resources; impacts of climate variability and change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Earth System Science (ESS) seeks to improve our understanding, observation, and prediction of interactions between earth system components. These components include land, atmosphere, water, and biosphere, as well as interactions of those spheres with human society, behavioral patterns, technologies, and economics. With respect to public health, ESS encompasses eco-epidemiology, social-ecological systems perspectives, and disease transmission models. In the present era of rapid and interacting global changes, advances in ESS are particularly critical to the maintenance and improvement of environmental quality and human health.

This special issue on “Advances in Earth System Science” invites technical and critical review papers that describe basic ESS research, ESS applications, and communication of ESS results relevant to public health. Contributions that have a significant impact on solving public health problems are particularly encouraged. The list of subject keywords provided below is intended to be illustrative, not comprehensive.

Dr. Benjamin Zaitchik
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • early warning systems
  • risk and exposure models
  • eco-epidemiology
  • climate extremes, variability, and change
  • air and water quality
  • land use change
  • food security
  • natural disasters
  • remote sensing
  • geographic and demographic analysis

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Building Climate Resilience in the Blue Nile/Abay Highlands: A Role for Earth System Sciences
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(2), 435-461; doi:10.3390/ijerph9020435
Received: 2 September 2011 / Revised: 7 January 2012 / Accepted: 21 January 2012 / Published: 30 January 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (5181 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Blue Nile (Abay) Highlands of Ethiopia are characterized by significant interannual climate variability, complex topography and associated local climate contrasts, erosive rains and erodible soils, and intense land pressure due to an increasing population and an economy that is almost entirely [...] Read more.
The Blue Nile (Abay) Highlands of Ethiopia are characterized by significant interannual climate variability, complex topography and associated local climate contrasts, erosive rains and erodible soils, and intense land pressure due to an increasing population and an economy that is almost entirely dependent on smallholder, low-input agriculture. As a result, these highland zones are highly vulnerable to negative impacts of climate variability. As patterns of variability and precipitation intensity alter under anthropogenic climate change, there is concern that this vulnerability will increase, threatening economic development and food security in the region. In order to overcome these challenges and to enhance sustainable development in the context of climate change, it is necessary to establish climate resilient development strategies that are informed by best-available Earth System Science (ESS) information. This requirement is complicated by the fact that climate projections for the Abay Highlands contain significant and perhaps irreducible uncertainties. A critical challenge for ESS, then, is to generate and to communicate meaningful information for climate resilient development in the context of a highly uncertain climate forecast. Here we report on a framework for applying ESS to climate resilient development in the Abay Highlands, with a focus on the challenge of reducing land degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Earth System Science)
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Vulnerability to Extreme Flash Floods in Design Storms
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(7), 2907-2922; doi:10.3390/ijerph8072907
Received: 30 March 2011 / Revised: 29 June 2011 / Accepted: 5 July 2011 / Published: 14 July 2011
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (744 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There has been an increase in the occurrence of sudden local flooding of great volume and short duration caused by heavy or excessive rainfall intensity over a small area, which presents the greatest potential danger threat to the natural environment, human life, [...] Read more.
There has been an increase in the occurrence of sudden local flooding of great volume and short duration caused by heavy or excessive rainfall intensity over a small area, which presents the greatest potential danger threat to the natural environment, human life, public health and property, etc. Such flash floods have rapid runoff and debris flow that rises quickly with little or no advance warning to prevent flood damage. This study develops a flash flood index through the average of the same scale relative severity factors quantifying characteristics of hydrographs generated from a rainfall-runoff model for the long-term observed rainfall data in a small ungauged study basin, and presents regression equations between rainfall characteristics and the flash flood index. The aim of this study is to develop flash flood index-duration-frequency relation curves by combining the rainfall intensity-duration-frequency relation and the flash flood index from probability rainfall data in order to evaluate vulnerability to extreme flash floods in design storms. This study is an initial effort to quantify the flash flood severity of design storms for both existing and planned flood control facilities to cope with residual flood risks due to extreme flash floods that have ocurred frequently in recent years. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Earth System Science)
Open AccessArticle Ground Water Chemistry Changes before Major Earthquakes and Possible Effects on Animals
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(6), 1936-1956; doi:10.3390/ijerph8061936
Received: 13 April 2011 / Revised: 21 May 2011 / Accepted: 25 May 2011 / Published: 1 June 2011
Cited by 27 | PDF Full-text (728 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Prior to major earthquakes many changes in the environment have been documented. Though often subtle and fleeting, these changes are noticeable at the land surface, in water, in the air, and in the ionosphere. Key to understanding these diverse pre-earthquake phenomena has [...] Read more.
Prior to major earthquakes many changes in the environment have been documented. Though often subtle and fleeting, these changes are noticeable at the land surface, in water, in the air, and in the ionosphere. Key to understanding these diverse pre-earthquake phenomena has been the discovery that, when tectonic stresses build up in the Earth’s crust, highly mobile electronic charge carriers are activated. These charge carriers are defect electrons on the oxygen anion sublattice of silicate minerals, known as positive holes, chemically equivalent to O in a matrix of O2–. They are remarkable inasmuch as they can flow out of the stressed rock volume and spread into the surrounding unstressed rocks. Travelling fast and far the positive holes cause a range of follow-on reactions when they arrive at the Earth’s surface, where they cause air ionization, injecting massive amounts of primarily positive air ions into the lower atmosphere. When they arrive at the rock-water interface, they act as •O radicals, oxidizing water to hydrogen peroxide. Other reactions at the rock-water interface include the oxidation or partial oxidation of dissolved organic compounds, leading to changes of their fluorescence spectra. Some compounds thus formed may be irritants or toxins to certain species of animals. Common toads, Bufo bufo, were observed to exhibit a highly unusual behavior prior to a M6.3 earthquake that hit L’Aquila, Italy, on April 06, 2009: a few days before the seismic event the toads suddenly disappeared from their breeding site in a small lake about 75 km from the epicenter and did not return until after the aftershock series. In this paper we discuss potential changes in groundwater chemistry prior to seismic events and their possible effects on animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Earth System Science)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Building Climate Resilience in the Blue Nile/Abay Highlands: A Framework for Action
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(2), 610-631; doi:10.3390/ijerph9020610
Received: 2 September 2011 / Revised: 18 January 2012 / Accepted: 3 February 2012 / Published: 16 February 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1874 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Ethiopia has become warmer over the past century and human induced climate change will bring further warming over the next century at unprecedented rates. On the average, climate models show a tendency for higher mean annual rainfall and for wetter conditions, in [...] Read more.
Ethiopia has become warmer over the past century and human induced climate change will bring further warming over the next century at unprecedented rates. On the average, climate models show a tendency for higher mean annual rainfall and for wetter conditions, in particular during October, November and December, but there is much uncertainty about the future amount, distribution, timing and intensity of rainfall. Ethiopia’s low level of economic development, combined with its heavy dependence on agriculture and high population growth rate make the country particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. Nearly 90% of Ethiopia’s population lives in the Highlands, which include the critical Blue Nile (Abay) Highlands—a region that holds special importance due to its role in domestic agricultural production and international water resources. A five year study of climate vulnerability and adaptation strategies in communities of Choke Mountain, located in the center of the Abay Highlands, has informed a proposed framework for enhancing climate resilience in communities across the region. The framework is motivated by the critical need to enhance capacity to cope with climate change and, subsequently, to advance a carbon neutral and climate resilient economy in Ethiopia. The implicit hypothesis in applying a research framework for this effort is that science-based information, generated through improved understanding of impacts and vulnerabilities of local communities, can contribute to enhanced resilience strategies. We view adaptation to climate change in a wider context of changes, including, among others, market conditions, the political-institutional framework, and population dynamics. From a livelihood perspective, culture, historical settings, the diversity of income generation strategies, knowledge, and education are important factors that contribute to adaptive capacities. This paper reviews key findings of the Choke Mountain study, describes the principles of the climate resilience framework, and proposes an implementation strategy for climate resilient development to be applied in the Abay Highlands, with potential expansion to agricultural communities across the region and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Earth System Science)
Open AccessReview Detection, Emission Estimation and Risk Prediction of Forest Fires in China Using Satellite Sensors and Simulation Models in the Past Three Decades—An Overview
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(8), 3156-3178; doi:10.3390/ijerph8083156
Received: 4 April 2011 / Revised: 29 June 2011 / Accepted: 13 July 2011 / Published: 28 July 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (337 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Forest fires have major impact on ecosystems and greatly impact the amount of greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere. This paper presents an overview in the forest fire detection, emission estimation, and fire risk prediction in China using satellite imagery, climate [...] Read more.
Forest fires have major impact on ecosystems and greatly impact the amount of greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere. This paper presents an overview in the forest fire detection, emission estimation, and fire risk prediction in China using satellite imagery, climate data, and various simulation models over the past three decades. Since the 1980s, remotely-sensed data acquired by many satellites, such as NOAA/AVHRR, FY-series, MODIS, CBERS, and ENVISAT, have been widely utilized for detecting forest fire hot spots and burned areas in China. Some developed algorithms have been utilized for detecting the forest fire hot spots at a sub-pixel level. With respect to modeling the forest burning emission, a remote sensing data-driven Net Primary productivity (NPP) estimation model was developed for estimating forest biomass and fuel. In order to improve the forest fire risk modeling in China, real-time meteorological data, such as surface temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction,have been used as the model input for improving prediction of forest fire occurrence and its behavior. Shortwave infrared (SWIR) and near infrared (NIR) channels of satellite sensors have been employed for detecting live fuel moisture content (FMC), and the Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) was used for evaluating the forest vegetation condition and its moisture status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Earth System Science)

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