Climate instability affects all living things, particularly in an extreme environment such as the desert Southwest. Challenges for urban dwellers in arid regions include long-term drought, crop failures, and the growing impacts of urban heat island effect. ASU's climate researchers currently address issues of how human activities and changing climate affect each other, policies and actions needed to ameliorate unfavorable climatic conditions, and strategies to ensure that human needs are met in conditions of uncertainty.
Through interdisciplinary projects integrating natural sciences, social science, and engineering, the Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project examines the effects of urbanization on a desert ecosystem and vice versa.
The Decision Center for a Desert City conducts climate, water, and decision research and develops innovative tools to bridge the boundary between scientists and decision makers and put their work into the hands of those whose concern is for the sustainable future of Greater Phoenix.
The Decision Theater Network actively engages researchers and leaders to visualize solutions to complex problems. The Network provides the latest expertise in collaborative, computing and display technologies for data visualization, modeling, and simulation. The Network addresses cross-disciplinary local, national and international issues by drawing on Arizona State University’s diverse academic and research capabilities.
This research will develop a biome classification system for streams to better understand how streams function and provide an ability to predict how streams will change from human and environmental factors.
The Drought-Net Research Coordination Network was established to advance understanding of the determinants of terrestrial ecosystem responses to drought by bringing together an international group of scientists to conduct three complementary research coordination activities: 1) planning and coordinating new research using standardized measurements to leverage the value of existing drought experiments across the globe, 2) finalizing the design and facilitating the establishment of a new international network of coordinated drought experiments, and 3) training highly motivated graduate students to conduct synthetic and network-level research through Distributed Graduate Seminars focused on drought.
Effects of Flow Regime Shifts, Antecedent Hydrology, Nitrogen Pulses and Resource Quantity and Quality on Food Chain Length in Rivers
The study will provide fundamental information on how the timing of floods and droughts across years influences water quality (nitrate inputs to rivers), primary production, and the production of animals higher in the food web, such as fish. The researchers will produce a synthesis of research in hydrology and ecology to improve the management of arid land rivers.
Multiscale Effects of Climate Variability and Change on Hydrologic Regimes, Ecosystem Function, and Community Structure in a Desert Stream and Its Catchment
This project focuses on using new statistical techniques that describe hydrological regimes, coupled with long-term measurements of stream structure and processes, to understand how shifts in climate and river discharge regimes on many time scales will influence the ecosystem.
This survey studies the relationships between people and the natural environment in the Phoenix metro area.
Over the past several decades, hundreds of glaciers in mountainous regions have been melting, leaving behind new glacier lakes holding millions of cubic meters of water. Usually contained by dams of loose boulders and soil, these lakes present a risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). As the number and extent of these lakes grows, so does the flood risk for communities downstream of them, potentially leading to extensive loss of lives and severe damage to transport infrastructure, hydroelectric power facilities and agriculture. This project will look at the factors that lead to GLOFs, and the measures that local populations can take to adapt to this increasing threat.
This project undertakes archaeological and paleoecological research in the Basin of Mexico to find out how political and environmental shifts shaped people's lives, as well as how people's responses to these circumstances contributed to regional change.
This research project is taking advantage of an ongoing outbreak of the South American locust (Schistocerca cancellata) to test the hypothesis that the ability for S. cancellata to attain a balance of nutrients optimal for growth limits their capacity to maintain persistent high populations over broad regions of South America. Locusts are a major challenge for food security globally, with outbreaks causing 80-100% crop losses. In the future, working collaboratively with government plant protection agencies, this research can be directly applied to strategies to improve livelihoods, human and environmental health, and global food security. Moreover, this award will support postdoctoral and student training, and cross-cultural exchange.
Urban areas are vulnerable to extreme weather related events given their location, high concentration of people, and increasingly complex and interdependent infrastructure. Impacts of Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other disasters demonstrate not just failures in built infrastructure, they highlight the inadequacy of institutions, resources, and information systems to prepare for and respond to events of this magnitude. The Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN) will develop a novel theoretical framework for integrating social, ecological, and technological system (SETS) dimensions for conceptualizing, analyzing, and supporting urban infrastructure decisions in the face of climatic uncertainty in a more holistic way.
This study addresses the questions: How does precipitation affect the above/belowground partitioning of carbon? During drought periods, are above and belowground structures equally affected, or are roots affected less than leaves and branches? Finally, is the effect of precipitation on carbon allocation constant or does it vary from deserts to humid grasslands?