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. 2017 May 8;14(5):496.
doi: 10.3390/ijerph14050496.

Evaluation of Drought Implications on Ecosystem Services: Freshwater Provisioning and Food Provisioning in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

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Free PMC article

Evaluation of Drought Implications on Ecosystem Services: Freshwater Provisioning and Food Provisioning in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

Ping Li et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Drought is one of the most widespread extreme climate events with a potential to alter freshwater availability and related ecosystem services. Given the interconnectedness between freshwater availability and many ecosystem services, including food provisioning, it is important to evaluate the drought implications on freshwater provisioning and food provisioning services. Studies about drought implications on streamflow, nutrient loads, and crop yields have been increased and these variables are all process-based model outputs that could represent ecosystem functions that contribute to the ecosystem services. However, few studies evaluate drought effects on ecosystem services such as freshwater and food provisioning and quantify these services using an index-based ecosystem service approach. In this study, the drought implications on freshwater and food provisioning services were evaluated for 14 four-digit HUC (Hydrological Unit Codes) subbasins in the Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB), using three drought indices: standardized precipitation index (SPI), standardized soil water content index (SSWI), and standardized streamflow index (SSI). The results showed that the seasonal freshwater provisioning was highly affected by the precipitation deficits and/or surpluses in summer and autumn. A greater importance of hydrological drought than meteorological drought implications on freshwater provisioning was evident for the majority of the subbasins, as evidenced by higher correlations between freshwater provisioning and SSI12 than SPI12. Food provisioning was substantially affected by the precipitation and soil water deficits during summer and early autumn, with relatively less effect observed in winter. A greater importance of agricultural drought effects on food provisioning was evident for most of the subbasins during crop reproductive stages. Results from this study may provide insights to help make effective land management decisions in responding to extreme climate conditions in order to protect and restore freshwater provisioning and food provisioning services in the UMRB.

Keywords: Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT); Upper Mississippi River Basin; drought; ecosystem services.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that no conflict of interest.

Figures

Figure A1
Figure A1
Daily simulated versus observed sediment, TN, and TP concentrations at outlet station Grafton (#05587450) in the UMRB.
Figure A2
Figure A2
Spatial distributions of December SPI12 for three representative drought years (1988, 2003, and 2012).
Figure A3
Figure A3
Outlook of the drought persistence for 14 HUC4 subbasins from 1985 to 2014 that was quantified by SPI3.
Figure A3
Figure A3
Outlook of the drought persistence for 14 HUC4 subbasins from 1985 to 2014 that was quantified by SPI3.
Figure 1
Figure 1
Location of the Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB) displaying four-digit Hydrological Unit Coded (HUC4) subbasins and calibrated streamflow gauge stations.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Monthly simulated versus observed streamflow, sediment, total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorus (TP) loads for some stations in the UMRB.
Figure 3
Figure 3
The mean annual corn and soybean of simulated (Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT)) versus estimated (National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)) yield for each of the HUC4 subbasins in the UMRB.
Figure 4
Figure 4
The monthly tallied frequency of drought under three categories (moderate, severe, and extreme).
Figure 5
Figure 5
The correlation coefficients (r) between annual freshwater provisioning (FWP) and SPI12 series (a); as well as SSI12 series (b) for each month in 14 HUC4 subbasins.
Figure 6
Figure 6
The correlation coefficients (r) between seasonal FWP and SPI3 per month in 14 HUC4 subbasins.
Figure 7
Figure 7
The correlation coefficients (r) between annual FP and SPI3 as well as SSWI at a 3-month scale (SSWI3) for each month in 14 HUC4 subbasins: 0701 (a); 0702 (b); 0703 (c); 0704 (d); 0705 (e); 0706 (f); 0707 (g); 0708 (h); 0709 (i); 0710 (j); 0711 (k); 0712 (l); 0713 (m); 0714 (n).
Figure 8
Figure 8
The percentage changes of annual FWP and total flow (Q) at drought years (a,c,e) and wet years (b,d,f) based on the 30-year mean value for three subbasins (HUC0707, HUC0709, and HUC0711).
Figure 9
Figure 9
The percentage changes of TN, TP and TSS concentrations (CTN, CTP, CTSS) in drought years (a,c,e) and wet years (b,d,f) based on the 30-year mean value for three subbasins (HUC0707, HUC0709, and HUC0711).

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