Anthropogenic and climatic controls on surface water across the contiguous United States

Palazzoli, Irene (2022) Anthropogenic and climatic controls on surface water across the contiguous United States, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Monitoraggio e gestione delle strutture e dell'ambiente - sehm2, 34 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10199.
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Anthropogenic activities and climatic processes heavily influence surface water resources by causing their progressive depletion, which in turn affects both societies and the environment. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand the contribution of human and climatic dynamics on the variation of surface water availability. Here, this investigation is performed on the contiguous United States (CONUS) using remotely-sensed data. Three anthropogenic (i.e., urban area, population, and irrigation) and two climatic factors (i.e., precipitation and temperature) were selected as potential drivers of changes in surface water extent and the overlap between the increase or decrease in these drivers and the variation of surface water was examined. Most of the river basins experienced a surface water gain due to precipitation increase (eastern CONUS), and a reduction of irrigated land (western CONUS). River basins of the arid southwestern region and some river basins of the northeastern area encountered a surface water loss, essentially induced by population growth, along with a precipitation deficit and a general expansion of irrigated land. To further inspect the role of population growth and urbanization on surface water loss, the spatial interaction between human settlements and surface water depletion was examined by evaluating the frequency of surface water loss as a function of distance from urban areas. The decline of the observed frequency was successfully reproduced with an exponential distance-decay model, proving that surface water losses are more concentrated in the proximity of cities. Climatic conditions influenced this pattern, with more widely distributed losses in arid regions compared to temperate and continental areas. The results presented in this Thesis provide an improved understanding of the effects of anthropogenic and climatic dynamics on surface water availability, which could be integrated in the definition of sustainable strategies for urbanization, water management, and surface water restoration.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Palazzoli, Irene
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Surface water resources, surface water depletion, anthropogenic drivers, climatic drivers, distance-decay model, human pressure.
Data di discussione
14 Giugno 2022

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