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Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) Science Plan

Description: Human population and associated industrial activities continue to increase rapidly, and have reached levels that put the environment under stress in many areas of the world. In addition natural fluctuations of the Earth's physical and biological systems, often occur in time frames that are not readily evident to man. Such fluctuations cause additional stress on the environment, and can result in changes that impact society in terms of diminished availability of clean water, unspoiled land and natural vegetation, minerals, fish stocks, and clean air. Human societies are making a rapidly increasing number of policy and management decisions that attempt to allow both for natural fluctuations and to limit or modify human impact. Such decisions are often ineffective, as a result of economic, political and social constraints, and inadequate understanding of the interactions between human activities and natural responses. Improved understanding of such issues is important in its own right, and will contribute to ameliorating economic, political and social constraints. Developing improved understanding of environmental change is within the realm of the natural sciences and is being addressed by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and other programmes concerned with describing and understanding the Earth System. Natural variability, occurring over a variety of time scales, dominates the health of complex marine ecosystems, regardless of fishing or other environmental pressure. We are only now beginning to compile quantitative documentation of such variability, and consequently our knowledge concerning its causes remains at the level of hypotheses. Understanding of the role of variability in the functioning of marine ecosystems is essential if we are to effectively manage global marine living resources such as fisheries during this period of tremendously increased human impact, and concurrent dependence, on these resources.
Date: 1997
Creator: Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC)

The Kalahari Transect: Research on Global Change and Sustainable Development in Southern Africa

Description: The Kalahari Transect is proposed as one of IGBPs Transects (see Koch et al. 1995 [IGBP Report 36]). It is located so as to span the gradient between the arid subtropics and the moist tropics in southern Africa, a zone potentially susceptible to changes in the global precipitation pattern. Its focus is the relationships between the structure and function of ecosystems and their large-scale biophysical and human drivers (climate, atmosphere and land use). The Kalahari Transect spans a strong climatic gradient in southern Africa, from the arid south to the humid north, while remaining on a single broad soil type, the deep sands of the Kalahari basin. The vegetation ranges over the length of the transect from shrubland through savannas and woodlands to closed evergreen tropical forest, with land uses ranging from migratory wildlife systems, through pastoralism, subsistence cropping to forestry. The objectives of the Kalahari Transect activity are to: build an active network of regional and international researchers around the issue of ecosystem structure and function in savanna woodlands undergoing climatic and land use change; quantify the current and future role of southern African savanna woodlands in the global carbon, water and trace gas budgets and the degree of dependence of these budgets on climate and land use change; develop a predictive understanding of future changes in southern African savannas and woodlands on sandy soils, including their capacity to deliver forage, timber and other products. A five year project is proposed, commencing in 1997. The project revolves around four themes: vegetation structure, composition and dynamics; biogeochemistry, trace gas emissions and productivity; resource use and management and water and energy balance. These themes define the minimum set of processes necessary for understanding of the Kalahari system.
Date: 1997
Creator: Scholes, R.J. & Parsons, D.A.B.

The Miombo Network: Framework for a Terrestrial Transect Study of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change in the Miombo Ecosystems of Central Africa

Description: This report describes the strategy for the Miombo Network Initiative, developed at an International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) intercore-project workshop in Malawi in December 1995 and further refined during the Land Use and Cover Change (LUCC) Open Science Meeting in January, 1996 and through consultation and review by the LUCC Scientific Steering Committee (SSC). The Miombo Network comprises of an international network of researchers working in concert on a 'community' research agenda developed to address the critical global change research questions for the miombo woodland ecosystems. The network also addresses capacity building and training needs in the Central, Eastern and Southern Africa (SAF) region, of the Global Change System for Analysis Research and Training (START). The research strategy described here provides the basis for a proposed IGBP Terrestrial Transect study of land cover and land use changes in the miombo ecosystems of Central Africa. It therefore resides administratively within the LUCC programme with linkages to other Programme Elements of the IGBP such as Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GCTE). The report provides the framework for research activities aimed at understanding how land use is affecting land cover and associated ecosystem processes; assessing what contribution these changes are making to global change; and predicting what effects global change in turn could have on land use dynamics and ecosystem structure and function. The key issues identified are: patterns, causes and rates of change in land cover in relation to land use; consequences of land-use and land-cover changes on regional climate, natural resources, hydrology, carbon storage and trace gas emissions; determinants of the distribution of species and ecosystems in miombo; and fundamental questions of miombo ecosystem structure and function.
Date: 1997
Creator: Desanker, Paul V.; Frost, Peter G. H.; Justice, Christopher O. & Scholes, Robert J.

Predicting Global Change Impacts on Mountain Hydrology and Ecology: Integrated Catchment Hydrology/Altitudinal Gradient Studies: A workshop report

Description: Documentation resulting from an international workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal, 30 March - 2 April 1996. The following themes were addressed by the working groups: 1. "Role of ecology and hydrology for the sustainable development in mountain regions" (the "human dimensions"). 2. "Coupled ecological and hydrological studies along altitudinal gradients in mountain regions", with a sub-group dealing with the "Assessment of the spatial distribution pattern of basic water balance components." 3. "Impacts of global change on the ecology and hydrology in mountain regions", with a sub-group on the "Identification of global change impacts on hydrology and ecology in high mountain areas."
Date: 1997
Creator: Becker, Alfred & Bugmann, Harald