The re-greening of the Sahel: natural cyclicity or human-induced change?
- The Sahel has been the focus of scientific interest in environmental-human dynamics and interactions. The objective of the present study is to contribute to the recent debate on the re-greening of Sahel. The paper examines the dynamics of barren land in the Sahel of Burkina Faso through analysis of remotely-sensed and rainfall data from 1975–2011. Discussions with farmers and land management staff have helped to understand the anthropogenic efforts toward soil restoration to enable the subsistence farming agriculture. Results showed that area of barren land has been fluctuating during the study period with approximately 10-year cyclicity. Similarly, rainfall, both at national and local levels has followed the same trends. The trends of the area of barren land and rainfall variability suggest that when rainfall increases, the area of barren land decreases and barren land increases when rainfall decreases. This implies that rainfall is one of the main factors driving the change in area of barren land. In addition, humans have contributed positively and negatively to the change by restoring barren lands for agriculture using locally known techniques and by accelerating land degradation through intensive and inappropriate land use practices.
Soil water retention curves for the major soil types of the Kruger National Park
Steven I. Higgins
- Soil water potential is crucial to plant transpiration and thus to carbon cycling and biosphere–atmosphere interactions, yet it is difficult to measure in the field. Volumetric and gravimetric water contents are easy and cheap to measure in the field, but can be a poor proxy of plant-available water. Soil water content can be transformed to water potential using soil moisture retention curves. We provide empirically derived soil moisture retention curves for seven soil types in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Site-specific curves produced excellent estimates of soil water potential from soil water content values. Curves from soils derived from the same geological substrate were similar, potentially allowing for the use of one curve for basalt soils and another for granite soils. It is anticipated that this dataset will help hydrologists and ecophysiologists understand water dynamics, carbon cycling and biosphere–atmosphere interactions under current and changing climatic conditions in the region.
Sensitivity of simulated global-scale freshwater fluxes and storages to input data, hydrological model structure, human water use and calibration
Hannes Müller Schmied
Felix Theodor Portmann
- Global-scale assessments of freshwater fluxes and storages by hydrological models under historic climate conditions are subject to a variety of uncertainties. Using the global hydrological model WaterGAP 2.2, we investigated the sensitivity of simulated freshwater fluxes and water storage variations to five major sources of uncertainty: climate forcing, land cover input, model structure, consideration of human water use and calibration (or no calibration). In a modelling experiment, five variants of the standard version of WaterGAP 2.2 were generated that differed from the standard version only regarding the investigated source of uncertainty. Sensitivity was analyzed by comparing water fluxes and water storage variations computed by the variants to those of the standard version, considering both global averages and grid cell values for the time period 1971–2000. The basin-specific calibration approach for WaterGAP, which forces simulated mean annual river discharge to be equal to observed values at 1319 gauging stations (representing 54% of global land area except Antarctica and Greenland), has the highest effect on modelled water fluxes and leads to the best fit of modelled to observed monthly and seasonal river discharge. Alternative state-of-the-art climate forcings rank second regarding the impact on grid cell specific fluxes and water storage variations, and their impact is ubiquitous and stronger than that of alternative land cover inputs. The diverse model refinements during the last decade lead to an improved fit to observed discharge, and affect globally averaged fluxes and storage values (the latter mainly due to modelling of groundwater depletion) but only affect a relatively small number of grid cells. Considering human water use is important for the global water storage trend (in particular in the groundwater compartment) but impacts on water fluxes are rather local and only important where water use is high. The best fit to observed time series of monthly river discharge (Nash–Sutcliffe criterion) or discharge seasonality is obtained with the standard WaterGAP 2.2 model version which is calibrated and driven by a sequence of two time series of daily observation-based climate forcings, WFD/WFDEI. Discharge computed by a calibrated model version using monthly CRU 3.2 and GPCC v6 climate input reduced the fit to observed discharge for most stations. Taking into account the investigated uncertainties of climate and land cover data, we estimate that the global 1971–2000 discharge into oceans and inland sinks is between 40 000 and 42 000 km3 yr−1. The range is mainly due differences in precipitation data that affect discharge in uncalibrated river basins. Actual evapotranspiration, with approximately 70 000 km3 yr−1, is rather unaffected by climate and land cover in global sum but differs spatially. Human water use is calculated to reduce river discharge by approximately 1000 km3 yr−1. Thus, global renewable water resources are estimated to range between 41 000 and 43 000 km3 yr−1. The climate data sets WFD (available until 2001) and WFDEI (starting in 1979) were found to be inconsistent with respect to short wave radiation data, resulting in strongly different potential evapotranspiration. Global assessments of freshwater fluxes and storages would therefore benefit from the development of a global data set of consistent daily climate forcing from 1900 to current.
Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Regarding Dengue Fever among the Healthy Population of Highland and Lowland Communities in Central Nepal
Krishna Kumar Aryal
Mandira Lamichhane Dhimal
Shanker Pratap Singh
Chop Lal Bhusal
- BACKGROUND: Dengue fever (DF) is the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. In this decade it has expanded to new countries and from urban to rural areas. Nepal was regarded DF free until 2004. Since then dengue virus (DENV) has rapidly expanded its range even in mountain regions of Nepal, and major outbreaks occurred in 2006 and 2010. However, no data on the local knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of DF in Nepal exist although such information is required for prevention and control measures.
METHODS: We conducted a community based cross-sectional survey in five districts of central Nepal between September 2011 and February 2012. We collected information on the socio-demographic characteristics of the participants and their knowledge, attitude and practice regarding DF using a structured questionnaire. We then statistically compared highland and lowland communities to identify possible causes of observed differences.
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Out of 589 individuals interviewed, 77% had heard of DF. Only 12% of the sample had good knowledge of DF. Those living in the lowlands were five times more likely to possess good knowledge than highlanders (P<0.001). Despite low knowledge levels, 83% of the people had good attitude and 37% reported good practice. We found a significantly positive correlation among knowledge, attitude and practice (P<0.001). Among the socio-demographic variables, the education level of the participants was an independent predictor of practice level (P<0.05), and education level and interaction between the sex and age group of the participants were independent predictors of attitude level (P<0.05).
CONCLUSION: Despite the rapid expansion of DENV in Nepal, the knowledge of people about DF was very low. Therefore, massive awareness programmes are urgently required to protect the health of people from DF and to limit its further spread in this country.
Medicanes in an ocean–atmosphere coupled regional climate model
- So-called medicanes (Mediterranean hurricanes) are meso-scale, marine, and warm-core Mediterranean cyclones that exhibit some similarities to tropical cyclones. The strong cyclonic winds associated with medicanes threaten the highly populated coastal areas around the Mediterranean basin. To reduce the risk of casualties and overall negative impacts, it is important to improve the understanding of medicanes with the use of numerical models. In this study, we employ an atmospheric limited-area model (COSMO-CLM) coupled with a one-dimensional ocean model (1-D NEMO-MED12) to simulate medicanes. The aim of this study is to assess the robustness of the coupled model in simulating these extreme events. For this purpose, 11 historical medicane events are simulated using the atmosphere-only model, COSMO-CLM, and coupled model, with different setups (horizontal atmospheric grid-spacings of 0.44°, 0.22°, and 0.08°; with/without spectral nudging, and an ocean grid-spacing of 1/12°). The results show that at high-resolution, the coupled model is able to not only simulate most of medicane events but also improve the track length, core temperature, and wind speed of simulated medicanes compared to the atmosphere-only simulations. The results suggest that the coupled model is more proficient for systemic and detailed studies of historical medicane events, and that this model can be an effective tool for future projections.
Progress in DGVMs: a comment on "Impacts of trait variation through observed trait–climate relationships on performance of an Earth system model: a conceptual analysis" by Verheijen et al. (2013)
Steven I. Higgins
Deriving an atmospheric budget of total organic bromine using airborne in-situ measurements from the Western Pacific during SHIVA
Dave E. Oram
- During the SHIVA (Stratospheric Ozone: Halogen Impacts in a Varying Atmosphere) project an extensive dataset of all halogen species relevant for the atmospheric budget of total organic bromine has been collected in the West Pacific region using the FALCON aircraft operated by the German Aerospace agency DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) covering a vertical range from the planetary boundary layer up to the ceiling altitude of the aircraft of 13 km. In total, more than 700 measurements were performed with the newly developed fully-automated in-situ instrument GHOST-MS (Gas cHromatograph for the Observation of Tracers – coupled with a Mass Spectrometer) by the Goethe University of Frankfurt (GUF) and with the onboard whole-air sampler WASP with subsequent ground based state-of-the-art GC/MS analysis by the University of East Anglia (UEA). Both instruments yield good agreement for all major (CHBr3 and CH2Br2) and minor (CHBrCl, CHBrCl2 and CHBr2Cl) VSLS (very short-lived substances), at least at the level of their 2 σ measurement uncertainties. In contrast to the suggestion that the Western Pacific could be a major source region for VSLS (Pyle et al., 2011), we found only slightly enhanced mixing ratios of brominated halogen source gases relative to the levels reported in Montzka et al. (2011) for other tropical regions. A budget for total organic bromine, including all four halons,CH3Br and the VSLS, is derived for the upper troposphere, the input region for the TTL and thus also for the stratosphere, compiled from the SHIVA dataset. With exception of the two minor VSLS CHBrCl2 and CHBr2Cl, excellent agreement with the values reported in Montzka et al. (2011) is found, while being slightly higher than previous studies from our group based on balloon-borne measurements.
A Satellite-Based Surface Radiation Climatology Derived by Combining Climate Data Records and Near-Real-Time Data
- This study presents a method for adjusting long-term climate data records (CDRs) for the integrated use with near-real-time data using the example of surface incoming solar irradiance (SIS). Recently, a 23-year long (1983–2005) continuous SIS CDR has been generated based on the visible channel (0.45–1 μm) of the MVIRI radiometers onboard the geostationary Meteosat First Generation Platform. The CDR is available from the EUMETSAT Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring (CM SAF). Here, it is assessed whether a homogeneous extension of the SIS CDR to the present is possible with operationally generated surface radiation data provided by CM SAF using the SEVIRI and GERB instruments onboard the Meteosat Second Generation satellites. Three extended CM SAF SIS CDR versions consisting of MVIRI-derived SIS (1983–2005) and three different SIS products derived from the SEVIRI and GERB instruments onboard the MSG satellites (2006 onwards) were tested. A procedure to detect shift inhomogeneities in the extended data record (1983–present) was applied that combines the Standard Normal Homogeneity Test (SNHT) and a penalized maximal T-test with visual inspection. Shift detection was done by comparing the SIS time series with the ground stations mean, in accordance with statistical significance. Several stations of the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) and about 50 stations of the Global Energy Balance Archive (GEBA) over Europe were used as the ground-based reference. The analysis indicates several breaks in the data record between 1987 and 1994 probably due to artefacts in the raw data and instrument failures. After 2005 the MVIRI radiometer was replaced by the narrow-band SEVIRI and the broadband GERB radiometers and a new retrieval algorithm was applied. This induces significant challenges for the homogenisation across the satellite generations. Homogenisation is performed by applying a mean-shift correction depending on the shift size of any segment between two break points to the last segment (2006–present). Corrections are applied to the most significant breaks that can be related to satellite changes. This study focuses on the European region, but the methods can be generalized to other regions. To account for seasonal dependence of the mean-shifts the correction was performed independently for each calendar month. In comparison to the ground-based reference the homogenised data record shows an improvement over the original data record in terms of anomaly correlation and bias. In general the method can also be applied for the adjustment of satellite datasets addressing other variables to bridge the gap between CDRs and near-real-time data.
Performance of diethylene glycol-based particle counters in the sub-3 nm size range
- When studying new particle formation, the uncertainty in determining the "true" nucleation rate is considerably reduced when using condensation particle counters (CPCs) capable of measuring concentrations of aerosol particles at sizes close to or even at the critical cluster size (1–2 nm). Recently, CPCs able to reliably detect particles below 2 nm in size and even close to 1 nm became available. Using these instruments, the corrections needed for calculating nucleation rates are substantially reduced compared to scaling the observed formation rate to the nucleation rate at the critical cluster size. However, this improved instrumentation requires a careful characterization of their cut-off size and the shape of the detection efficiency curve because relatively small shifts in the cut-off size can translate into larger relative errors when measuring particles close to the cut-off size.
Here we describe the development of two continuous-flow CPCs using diethylene glycol (DEG) as the working fluid. The design is based on two TSI 3776 counters. Several sets of measurements to characterize their performance at different temperature settings were carried out. Furthermore, two mixing-type particle size magnifiers (PSM) A09 from Airmodus were characterized in parallel. One PSM was operated at the highest mixing ratio (1 L min−1 saturator flow), and the other was operated in a scanning mode, where the mixing ratios are changed periodically, resulting in a range of cut-off sizes. The mixing ratios are determined by varying the saturator flow, where the aerosol flow stays constant at 2.5 L min−1. Different test aerosols were generated using a nano-differential mobility analyser (nano-DMA) or a high-resolution DMA, to obtain detection efficiency curves for all four CPCs. One calibration setup included a high-resolution mass spectrometer (APi-TOF) for the determination of the chemical composition of the generated clusters. The lowest cut-off sizes were achieved with negatively charged ammonium sulfate clusters, resulting in cut-offs of 1.4 nm for the laminar flow CPCs and 1.2 and 1.1 nm for the PSMs. A comparison of one of the laminar-flow CPCs and one of the PSMs measuring ambient and laboratory air showed good agreement between the instruments.
COMPASS – COMparative Particle formation in the Atmosphere using portable Simulation chamber Study techniques
Eric van Beesel
Luis dos Santos
- In this study we report the set-up of a novel twin chamber technique that uses the comparative method and establishes an appropriate connection of atmospheric and laboratory methods to broaden the tools for investigations. It is designed to study the impact of certain parameters and gases on ambient processes, such as particle formation online, and can be applied in a large variety of conditions. The characterisation of both chambers proved that both chambers operate identically, with a residence time xT (COMPASS1) = 26.5 ± 0.3 min and xT (COMPASS2) = 26.6 ± 0.4 min, at a typical flow rate of 15 L min−1 and a gas leak rate of (1.6 ± 0.8) × 10−5 s−1. Particle loss rates were found to be larger (due to the particles' stickiness to the chamber walls), with an extrapolated maximum of 1.8 × 10−3 s−1 at 1 nm, i.e. a hundredfold of the gas leak rate. This latter value is associated with sticky non-volatile gaseous compounds, too. Comparison measurement showed no significant differences. Therefore operation under atmospheric conditions is trustworthy. To indicate the applicability and the benefit of the system, a set of experiments was conducted under different conditions, i.e. urban and remote, enhanced ozone and terpenes as well as reduced sunlight. In order to do so, an ozone lamp was applied to enhance ozone in one of two chambers; the measurement chamber was protected from radiation by a first-aid cover and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were added using a small additional flow and a temperature-controlled oven. During the elevated ozone period, ambient particle number and volume increased substantially at urban and remote conditions, but by a different intensity. Protection of solar radiation displayed a clear negative effect on particle number, while terpene addition did cause a distinct daily pattern. E.g. adding β pinene particle number concentration rose by 13% maximum at noontime, while no significant effect was observable during darkness. Therefore, the system is a useful tool for investigating local precursors and the details of ambient particle formation at surface locations as well as potential future feedback processes.