The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

New Episode of #ClimateReady Podcast | Ensuring Adaptation: Nature-Based Solutions to Reducing Risk

Infrastructure or ecosystems? Nature or economic development? Historically, those have been the tensions expressed about investing how we innovate, grow economies, reduce the impact of disasters, and alleviate poverty relative to preserving natural systems and ecological integrity.

Climate adaptation has shifted the terms of this long-standing debate. Traditional gray infrastructure is harder to design and maintain to be resilient. Nature-based solutions (NbS) work better in some situations, such as when we need more flexibility or face higher levels of uncertainty. Is a middle ground appearing?

In this episode of the ClimateReady Podcast, we bring in Dr. Elena Lopez Gunn to discuss her leadership to study, demonstrate, and ultimately quantify the insurance value of nature through a project she is leading known as NAIAD. This EU-funded project aims to expand the evidence base around NbS for reducing flood and drought risk while creating the business and financial frameworks necessary for operationalizing these approaches.

After our main interview Al Meghji, an MPA candidate at Cornell University, sends us a “Postcard from the Future” for a glimpse into the world of 2070 and some advice on how we can focus our efforts now to create a more equitable and livable society in the future. Stick around until the end for next year’s winning lotto numbers!

New Episode of #ClimateReady Podcast | "Go with the Flow: Managed Rivers, Unmanaged Climate"

Freshwater ecosystems are in trouble. For centuries -- and until very recently -- rivers and ecosystems were always managed using history as a reference point. As we move into an era of uncertainty surrounding climate and hydrology, how should we think about ecosystem management in the future?

In this episode of ClimateReady, we meet with Dr. LeRoy Poff, a Professor in the Department of Biology at Colorado State University and Chair of its Ecology Graduate Program. LeRoy is a leading authority on aquatic ecology and lead author behind the seminal environmental flows (“eflows”) theory on river restoration and management. For the last 20 years, eflow science has been used to guide management and policy around ecosystem performance and natural flow regimes in regulated rivers. However, the underlying assumptions of this theory and practice are being tested by climate change. With an updated take on eflows, LeRoy explains how we must move beyond the natural flow regime to meet the challenges of a non-stationary and changing world.

Following the main interview, we have a “Postcard from the Future” from Stephanie Lyons, a climate, environment, and water consultant with a story from Vietnam.

New publication on Freshwater Ecosystems in Protected Areas

pittock book
A new book on Freshwater Ecosystems in Protected Areas: Conservation and Management, is edited by C. Max Finlayson, Angela H. Arthington and Jamie Pittock, and published by Routledge as part of their Series, Earthscan Studies in Water Resource Management.

Freshwater ecosystems have the greatest species diversity per unit area. This book shows that, rather than a marginal part of protected area management, freshwater conservation is central to sustaining biodiversity. The book focuses on better practices for conserving inland aquatic ecosystems in protected areas (PAs), including rivers, wetlands, swamps, other brackish and freshwater ecosystems, and coastal estuaries. With an international authorship of 32 authors for 14 chapters, the book moves from describing the basic concepts of freshwater ecosystem types and ecological principles, through to defining the characteristics of freshwater protected areas, the threats they face, before discussing how to best manage them at catchment scale, and within the global landscape, and with the perspective of climate change.

For more details see:

New Tool for Virtual Experimentation with Aquatic Ecosystems

A new QGIS-based tool (WET: Water Ecosystems Tool) has just been released. WET enables model application and virtual experimentation with aquatic ecosystems. The tool wraps around a coupled GOTM-FABM-PCLake model core, which describes a wide range of physical (1D), chemical and biological processes. WET aims to ease the adaptation of models to individual lakes and drinking water reservoirs, and the tool may be used for research, teaching and management purposes. The concept behind WET has recently been published in Environmental Modelling and Software by Nielsen et al. (open access pdf available here). WET is open source, and will continue to be developed on the basis of ongoing and potential future projects. The website has just been launched, which provides additional information and download instructions.