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Journal Article

Hydroclimatic Vulnerability of Wetlands to Upwind Land Use Changes


Fahrländer,  Simon Felix
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Wang-Erlandsson,  Lan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Pranindita,  Agnes
External Organizations;

Jaramillo,  Fernando
External Organizations;

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Fahrländer, S. F., Wang-Erlandsson, L., Pranindita, A., Jaramillo, F. (2024): Hydroclimatic Vulnerability of Wetlands to Upwind Land Use Changes. - Earth's Future, 12, 3, e2023EF003837.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29596
Despite their importance, wetland ecosystems protected through the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands are under pressure from climate change and human activities. These drivers are altering water availability in these wetlands, changing water levels or surface extent, in some cases, beyond historical variability. Attribution of the effects of human and climate activities is usually focused on changes within the wetlands or their upstream surface and groundwater inputs. However, the reliance of wetland water availability on upwind atmospheric moisture supply is less understood. Here, we assess the vulnerability of 40 Ramsar wetland basins to precipitation changes caused by land use and hydroclimatic changes occurring in their upwind moisture-supplying regions. We use moisture flows from a Lagrangian tracking model, atmospheric reanalysis data, and historical land use change data to assess and quantify these changes. Our analyses show that historical land use change decreased precipitation and terrestrial moisture recycling in most wetland hydrological basins, accompanied by decreasing surface water availability (precipitation minus evaporation) in some wetlands. The most substantial effects on wetland water availability occurred in the tropical and subtropical regions of Central Europe and Asia. Overall, we found wetlands in Asia and South America to be especially threatened by a combination of land use change-driven effects on runoff, high terrestrial precipitation recycling, and recently decreasing surface water availability. This study stresses the need to incorporate upwind effects of land use changes in the restoration, management and conservation of the world’s wetlands.