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Anna Scaini

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A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to Research, Newspapers, and Governance

    2021. Anna Scaini (et al.). Frontiers in Environmental Science 9


    Are academic, newspaper and regulatory documents aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SENDAI)? To answer this question, we develop a framework to compare the most commonly occurring keywords across these document types, as well as their use of Sustainable Development Goals and SENDAI keywords. The approach is tested in a case study on the Tagliamento River in the Italian Alps to explore the degree of communication among academia, newspapers and governance. Across the analyzed documents, we found disconnection between academic sources and regulatory documents. Occurrences of SDG-related keywords are positively correlated in regulatory documents and newspapers (r = 0.6), and in academic literature and newspapers (r = 0.38), indicating some degree of agreement. However, no correlation emerges between academic and regulatory documents, indicating a critical gap for communication and understanding between academic research and governance.

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  • Hydro-climatic controls explain variations in catchment-scale nitrogen use efficiency

    2020. Anna Scaini (et al.). Environmental Research Letters 15 (9)


    The efficiency of fertilizer conversion to harvestable products is often low in annual crops such that large amounts of nutrients are lost from fields with negative consequences for the environment. Focusing on nitrogen (N) use efficiency (NUE: the ratio of N in harvested products over the sum of all N inputs), we propose that hydrological controls can explain variations in NUE, because water mediates both the uptake of N by plants and N leaching. We assess these controls at the catchment scale, at which the water balance can be constrained by precipitation and runoff data and NUE can be quantified with census data. With this approach we test the hypotheses that a higher evaporative ratio (ET/P: the ratio of evapotranspiration over precipitation) increases N retention, thereby increasing NUE both across catchments at a given time and through time. With data from 73 catchments in the United States, encompassing a wide range of pedoclimatic conditions for the period 1988-2007, we apply a linear mixed effect model to test the effect of ET/P on NUE. Supporting our hypotheses, ET/P was positively related to NUE, and NUE increased through time. Moreover, we found an interaction between ET/P and time, such that the ET/P effect on NUE decreased in the period 1998-2007. We conclude that climatic changes that increase ET/P without negatively affecting yields, will increase N retention in the examined catchments.

    Read more about Hydro-climatic controls explain variations in catchment-scale nitrogen use efficiency
  • Understanding coastal wetland conditions and futures by closing their hydrologic balance

    2020. Stefano Manzoni (et al.). Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 24 (7), 3557-3571


    Coastal wetlands and lagoons are under pressure due to competing demands for freshwater resources and climatic changes, which may increase salinity and cause a loss of ecological functions. These pressures are particularly high in Mediterranean regions with high evaporative demand compared to precipitation. To manage such wetlands and maximize their provision of ecosystem services, their hydrologic balance must be quantified. However, multiple channels, diffuse surface water exchanges, and diverse groundwater pathways complicate the quantification of different water balance components. To overcome this difficulty, we developed a mass balance approach based on coupled water and salt balance equations to estimate currently unknown water exchange fluxes through the Gialova lagoon, southwestern Peloponnese, Greece. Our approach facilitates quantification of both saline and freshwater exchange fluxes, using measured precipitation, water depth and salinity, and estimated evaporation rates over a study period of 2 years (2016-2017). While water exchanges were dominated by evaporation and saline water inputs from the sea during the summer, precipitation and freshwater inputs were more important during the winter. About 40 % and 60 % of the freshwater inputs were from precipitation and lateral freshwater flows, respectively. Approximately 70 % of the outputs was due to evaporation, with the remaining 30 % being water flow from the lagoon to the sea. Under future drier and warmer conditions, salinity in the lagoon is expected to increase, unless freshwater inputs are enhanced by restoring hydrologic connectivity between the lagoon and the surrounding freshwater bodies. This restoration strategy would be fundamental to stabilizing the current wide seasonal fluctuations in salinity and maintain ecosystem functionality but could be challenging to implement due to expected reductions in water availability in the freshwater bodies supporting the lagoon.

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  • Do alternative irrigation strategies for rice cultivation decrease water footprints at the cost of long-term soil health?

    2019. John Livsey (et al.). Environmental Research Letters 14 (7)


    The availability of water is a growing concern for flooded rice production. As such, several water-saving irrigation practices have been developed to reduce water requirements. Alternate wetting and drying and mid-season drainage have been shown to potentially reduce water requirements while maintaining rice yields when compared to continuous flooding. With the removal of permanently anaerobic conditions during the growing season, water-saving irrigation can also reduce CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) emissions, helping reduce the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the long-term impact of water-saving irrigation on soil organic carbon (SOC)-used here as an indicator of soil health and fertility-has not been explored. We therefore conducted a meta-analysis to assess the effects of common water-saving irrigation practices (alternate wetting and drying and mid-season drainage) on (i) SOC, and (ii) GHG emissions. Despite an extensive literature search, only 12 studies were found containing data to constrain the soil C balance in both continuous flooding and water-saving irrigation plots, highlighting the still limited understanding of long-term impacts of water-saving irrigation on soil health and GHG emissions. Water-saving irrigation was found to reduce emissions of CH4 by 52.3% and increased those of CO2 by 44.8%. CO2eq emissions were thereby reduced by 18.6% but the soil-to-atmosphere carbon (C) flux increased by 25% when compared to continuous flooding. Water-saving irrigation was also found to have a negative effect on both SOC-reducing concentrations by 5.2%-and soil organic nitrogen-potentially depleting stocks by more than 100 kgN/ha per year. While negative effects of water-saving irrigation on rice yield may not be visible in short-term experiments, care should be taken when assessing the long-term sustainability of these irrigation practices because they can decrease soil fertility. Strategies need to be developed for assessing the more long-term effects of these irrigation practices by considering trade-offs between water savings and other ecosystem services.

    Read more about Do alternative irrigation strategies for rice cultivation decrease water footprints at the cost of long-term soil health?
  • Following tracer through the unsaturated zone using a multiple interacting pathways model

    2019. Anna Scaini (et al.). Hydrological Processes 33 (17), 2300-2313


    Models must effectively represent velocities and celerities if they are to address the old water paradox. Celerity information is recorded indirectly in hydrograph observations, whereas velocity information is more difficult to measure and simulate effectively, requiring additional assumptions and parameters. Velocity information can be obtained from tracer experiments, but we often lack information on the influence of soil properties on tracer mobility. This study features a combined experimental and modelling approach geared towards the evaluation of different structures in the multiple interacting pathways (MIPs) model and validates the representation of velocities with laboratory tracer experiments using an undisturbed soil column. Results indicate that the soil microstructure was modified during the experiment. Soil water velocities were represented using MIPs, testing how the (a) shape of the velocity distribution, (b) transition probability matrices (TPMs), (c) presence of immobile storage, and (d) nonstationary field capacity influence the model's performance. In MIPs, the TPM controls exhanges of water between pathways. In our experiment, MIPs were able to provide a good representation of the pattern of outflow. The results show that the connectedness of the faster pathways is important for controlling the percolation of water and tracer through the soil. The best model performance was obtained with the inclusion of immobile storage, but simulations were poor under the assumption of stationary parameters. The entire experiment was adequately simulated once a time-variable field capacity parameter was introduced, supporting the need for including the effects of soil microstructure changes observed during the experiment.

    Read more about Following tracer through the unsaturated zone using a multiple interacting pathways model
  • Flood Risk and River Conservation

    2021. Anna Scaini (et al.). Frontiers in Earth Science 9


    Involving citizens in river and flood risk management is critical for risk reduction and sustainable development within river basins, but local community input is often limited. This is partly due to the difficulty of quantifying the perceived values and risks related to the rivers, because these are based on personal knowledge and opinions. There is a need for more data on locals' opinions and how they are spatially distributed across the river basin. Studies analyzing how perceived risks match evidence-based data can be a first step to including local knowledge in the decision-making process and pose the basis to enhance preparedness. Here, we present a blueprint questionnaire to characterize the perception of flood risk and its spatial distribution across the river basin. Respondents are asked their perception of the role of the river in terms of flood risk and management, as well as to pinpoint on a map the areas they identify as the most dangerous during floods. The approach is tested on the Tagliamento River in the Italian Alps, characterized by debates regarding flood protection, flood management and ecological conservation. The flood risk perception map shows good agreement between perceived risk and existing flood risk assessment maps in the lower basin, where major floods happened in recent memory (1966). In the upper basin, despite having suffered frequent floods, participants are more uncertain about the risks. There is interest in being involved in the risk management debate, and most respondents believe that risk reduction and river conservation are compatible. Land use planning is identified as a factor that can increase flood risk. The results point to the necessity to tackle together conservation, risk management and land use planning in order to develop risk-oriented river management strategies. Our study demonstrates how online participatory mapping can be used to improve the understanding of citizens' perceptions and expectations with regards to their river, and support participation in sustainable river management.

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  • Combined heat and drought suppress rainfed maize and soybean yields and modify irrigation benefits in the USA

    2021. Xiangyu Luan (et al.). Environmental Research Letters 16 (6)


    Heat and water stress can drastically reduce crop yields, particularly when they co-occur, but their combined effects and the mitigating potential of irrigation have not been simultaneously assessed at the regional scale. We quantified the combined effects of temperature and precipitation on county-level maize and soybean yields from irrigated and rainfed cropping in the USA in 1970–2010, and estimated the yield changes due to expected future changes in temperature and precipitation. We hypothesized that yield reductions would be induced jointly by water and heat stress during the growing season, caused by low total precipitation (PGS) and high mean temperatures (TGS) over the whole growing season, or by many consecutive dry days (CDDGS) and high mean temperature during such dry spells (TCDD) within the season. Whole growing season (TGS, PGS) and intra-seasonal climatic indices (TCDD, CDDGS) had comparable explanatory power. Rainfed maize and soybean yielded least under warm and dry conditions over the season, and with longer dry spells and higher dry spell temperature. Yields were lost faster by warming under dry conditions, and by lengthening dry spells under warm conditions. For whole season climatic indices, maize yield loss per degree increase in temperature was larger in wet compared with dry conditions, and the benefit of increased precipitation greater under cooler conditions. The reverse was true for soybean. An increase of 2 °C in TGS and no change in precipitation gave a predicted mean yield reduction across counties of 15.2% for maize and 27.6% for soybean. Irrigation alleviated both water and heat stresses, in maize even reverting the response to changes in temperature, but dependencies on temperature and precipitation remained. We provide carefully parameterized statistical models including interaction terms between temperature and precipitation to improve predictions of climate change effects on crop yield and context-dependent benefits of irrigation.

    Read more about Combined heat and drought suppress rainfed maize and soybean yields and modify irrigation benefits in the USA
  • Floods, soil and food – Interactions between water management and rice production within An Giang province, Vietnam

    2021. John Livsey (et al.). Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 320


    Rapid intensification of Vietnamese rice production has had a positive effect on the nation's food production and economy. However, the sustainability of intensive rice production is increasingly being questioned within Vietnam, particularly in major agricultural provinces such as An Giang. The construction of high dykes within this province, which allow for complete regulation of water onto rice fields, has enabled farmers to grow up to three rice crops per year. However, the profitability of producing three crops is rapidly decreasing as farmers increase their use of chemical fertilizer inputs and pesticides. Increased fertilizer inputs are partly used to replace natural flood-borne, nutrient-rich sediment inputs that have been inhibited by the dykes, but farmers believe that despite this, soil health within the dyke system is degrading. However, the effects of the dykes on soil properties have not been tested. Therefore, a sampling campaign was conducted to assess differences in soil properties caused by the construction of dykes. The results show that, under present fertilization practices, although dykes may inhibit flood-borne sediments, this does not lead to a systematic reduction in nutrients that typically limit rice growth within areas producing three crops per year. Concentrations of total nitrogen, available phosphorous, and both total and available potassium, and pH were higher in the surface layer of soils of three crop areas when compared to two crop areas. This suggests that yield declines may be caused by other factors related to the construction of dykes and the use of chemical inputs, and that care should be taken when attempting to maintain crop yields. Attempting to compensate for yield declines by increasing fertilizer inputs may ultimately have negative effects on yields.

    Read more about Floods, soil and food – Interactions between water management and rice production within An Giang province, Vietnam

Show all publications by Anna Scaini at Stockholm University