Homogenization of the terrestrial water cycle
Delphis F. Levia*† , Irena F. Creed†, … Tomo’omi Kumagai, et al.(*Corresponding author, †Co-first author)
Land-use and land-cover changes are accelerating. Such changes can homogenize the water cycle and undermine planetary resilience. Policymakers and practitioners must consider water–vegetation interactions in their land-management decisions.
Hydrological, ecological and human systems are interconnected. Recognizing this, the United Nations declared 2018–2028 as the International Decade for Action on ‘Water for Sustainable Development’. Likewise, the International Association of Hydrological Sciences designated 2013–2022 as the scientific decade of ‘Panta Rhei – Everything Flows’ to foster hydrological research into the human influence on the water cycle. Yet, policies that alter land use and land cover to increase carbon sequestration and meet food, water and energy demands are altering the water cycle in ways that risk unintended global consequences. There are multi-faceted risks associated with large-scale, human-induced homogenization of land cover, such as the conversion of natural forests to monocultural plantations or crops. We must quantify how the resulting losses in plant diversity affect the water cycle and, in turn, planetary resilience to global change. We call on natural and social scientists alike to provide the evidence base needed to understand and sustainably manage the consequences of large-scale land-use and land-cover change for the water cycle and preserve the resilience of water-dependent ecosystems and society.
- : Nature Geoscience
- : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0641-y
- : https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-020-0641-y