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Oker U-706 Driver 41

Attribution of desertification to climate variability and change, and to human activities, varies in space and time (high confidence). Climate variability and anthropogenic climate change, particularly through increases in both land surface air temperature and evapotranspiration, and decreases in precipitation, are likely to have played a role, in interaction with human activities, in causing desertification in some dryland areas. The major human drivers of desertification interacting with climate change are expansion of croplands, unsustainable land management practices and increased pressure on land from population and income growth. Poverty is limiting both capacities to adapt to climate change and availability of financial resources to invest in sustainable land management (SLM) (high confidence). 3.1.4, 3.2.2, 3.4.2

oker u-706 driver 41

The wildfire is a driver of desertification, because it reduces vegetation cover, increases runoff and soil erosion, reduces soil fertility and affects the soil microbial community (Vega et al. 2005148; Nyman et al. 2010149; Holden et al. 2013150; Pourreza et al. 2014151; Weber et al. 2014152; Liu and Wimberly 2016153). Predicted increases in temperature and the severity of drought events across some dryland areas (Section 2.2) can increase chances of wildfire occurrence (medium confidence) (Jolly et al. 2015154; Williams et al. 2010155; Clarke and Evans 2018156) (Cross-Chapter Box 3 in Chapter 2). In semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, fire can have a profound influence on observed vegetation and particularly the relative abundance of grasses to woody plants (Bond et al. 2003157; Bond and Keeley 2005158; Balch et al. 2013159).

Labour mobility is another key human driver that will interact with climate change. Although strong impacts of climate change on migration in dryland areas are disputed, in some places, it is likely to provide an added incentive to migrate (Section Out-migration will have several contradictory effects on desertification. On one hand, it reduces an immediate pressure on land if it leads to less dependence on land for livelihoods (Chen et al. 2014183; Liu et al. 2016a). Moreover, migrant remittances could be used to fund the adoption of SLM practices. Labour mobility from agriculture to non-agricultural sectors could allow land consolidation, gradually leading to mechanisation and agricultural intensification (Wang et al. 2014184, 2018185). On the other hand, this can increase the costs of labour-intensive SLM practices due to lower availability of rural agricultural labour and/or higher rural wages. Out-migration increases the pressure on land if higher wages that rural migrants earn in urban centres will lead to their higher food consumption. Moreover, migrant remittances could also be used to fund land-use expansion to marginal areas (Taylor et al. 2016186; Gray and Bilsborrow 2014187). The net effect of these opposite mechanisms varies from place to place (Qin and Liao 2016188). There is very little literature evaluating these joint effects of climate change, desertification and labour mobility (Section 7.3.2).

Another assumption in RESTREND is that any trend is linear throughout the period examined. That is, there are no discontinuities (break points) in the trend. Browning et al. (2017)432 have shown that break points in NDVI time series reflect vegetation changes based on long-term field sites. To overcome this limitation, Burrell et al. (2017)433 introduced the Time Series Segmentation-RESTREND (TSS-RESTREND) which allows a breakpoint or turning point within the period examined (Figure 3.7). Using TSS-RESTREND over Australia they identified more than double the degrading area than could be identified with a standard RESTREND analysis. The occurrence and drivers of abrupt change (turning points) in ecosystem functioning were also examined by Horion et al. (2016)434 over the semi-arid Northern Eurasian agricultural frontier. They combined trend shifts in RUE, field data and expert knowledge, to map environmental hotspots of change and attribute them to climate and human activities. One-third of the area showed significant change in RUE, mainly occurring around the fall of the Soviet Union (1991) or as the result of major droughts. Recent human-induced turning points in ecosystem functioning were uncovered around Volgograd (Russia) and around Lake Balkhash (Kazakhstan), attributed to recultivation, increased salinisation, and increased grazing.

The drivers of dryland vegetation change. The mean annual change in NDVImax between 1982 and 2015 (see Figure 3.6 for total change using Global Inventory Modelling and Mapping Studies NDVI3g v1 dataset) attributable to(a)CO2 fertilisation(b)climate and (c) land use. The change attributable to CO2 fertilisation was calculated using the CO2 fertilisation relationship described in Franks et al. 20131793. The Time Series Segmented Residual Trends (TSS-RESTREND) method (Burrell et al. 20171794) applied to the CO2-adjusted NDVI was used to separate Climate and Land Use. A multi-climate dataset ensemble was used to reduce the impact of dataset errors (Burrell et al. 20181795). Non-dryland regions (aridity index >0.65) are masked in dark grey. Areas where the change did not meet the multi-run ensemble significance criteria, or are smaller than the error in the sensors (0.00001) are masked in white

The major conclusion of this section is that, with all the shortcomings of individual case studies, relative roles of climatic and human drivers of desertification are location-specific and evolve over time (high confidence). Biophysical research on attribution and socio-economic research on drivers of land degradation have long studied the same topic, but in parallel, with little interdisciplinary integration. Interdisciplinary work to identify typical patterns, or typologies, of such interactions of biophysical and human drivers of desertification (not only of dryland vulnerability), and their relative shares, done globally in comparable ways, will help in the formulation of better informed policies to address desertification and achieve land degradation neutrality.

About 821 million people globally were food insecure in 2017, of whom 63% in Asia, 31% in Africa and 5% in Latin America and the Caribbean (FAO et al. 2018667). The global number of food insecure people rose by 37 million since 2014. Changing climate variability, combined with a lack of climate resilience, was suggested as a key driver of this increase (FAO et al. 2018668). Sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa and South Asia had the highest share of undernourished populations in the world in 2017, with 28.8%, 31.4% and 33.7% respectively (FAO et al. 2018669). The major mechanism through which climate change and desertification affect food security is through their impacts on agricultural productivity. There is robust evidence pointing to negative impacts of climate change on crop yields in dryland areas (high agreement) (Hochman et al. 2017670; Nelson et al. 2010671; Zhao et al. 2017672) (Sections 3.4.1, 5.2.2 and 4.7.2). There is also robust evidence and high agreement on the losses in agricultural productivity and incomes due to desertification (Kirui 2016673; Moussa et al. 2016674; Mythili and Goedecke 2016675; Tun et al. 2015676). Nkonya et al. (2016a)677 estimated that cultivating wheat, maize, and rice with unsustainable land management practices is currently resulting in global losses of 56.6 billion USD annually, with another 8.7 billion USD of annual losses due to lower livestock productivity caused by rangeland degradation. However, the extent to which these losses affected food insecurity in dryland areas is not known. Lower crop yields and higher agricultural prices worsen existing food insecurity, especially for net food-buying rural households and urban dwellers. Climate change and desertification are not the sole drivers of food insecurity, but especially in the areas with high dependence on agriculture, they are among the main contributors.

Assessing the impact of climate change on future desertification is difficult as several environmental and anthropogenic variables interact to determine its dynamics. The majority of modelling studies regarding the future evolution of desertification rely on the analysis of specific climate change scenarios and Global Climate Models (GCMs) and their effect on a few processes or drivers that trigger desertification (Cross-Chapter Box 1 in Chapter 1).

Drylands are characterised by high climatic variability. Climate impacts on desertification are not only defined by projected trends in mean temperature and precipitation values but are also strongly dependent on changes in climate variability and extremes (Reyer et al. 2013914). The responses of ecosystems depend on diverse vegetation types. Drier ecosystems are more sensitive to changes in precipitation and temperature (Li et al. 2018915; Seddon et al. 2016916; You et al. 2018917), increasing vulnerability to desertification. It has also been reported that areas with high variability in precipitation tend to have lower livestock densities and that those societies that have a strong dependence on livestock that graze natural forage are especially affected (Sloat et al. 2018918). Social vulnerability in drylands increases as a consequence of climate change that threatens the viability of pastoral food systems (Dougill et al. 2010919; López-i-Gelats et al. 2016920). Social drivers can also play an important role with regards to future vulnerability (Máñez Costa et al. 2011921). In the arid region of north-western China, Liu et al. (2016b)922 estimated that under RCP4.5 areas of increased vulnerability to climate change and desertification will surpass those with decreased vulnerability.

Facilitating structural transformations in rural economies implies that the development of non-agricultural sectors encourages the movement of labour from land-based livelihoods, vulnerable to desertification and climate change, to non-agricultural activities (Haggblade et al. 20101420). The movement of labour from agriculture to non-agricultural sectors is determined by relative labour productivities in these sectors (Shiferaw and Djido 20161421). Given already high underemployment in the farm sector, increasing labour productivity in the non-farm sector was found as the main driver of labour movements from farm sector to non-farm sector (Shiferaw and Djido 20161422). More investments into education can facilitate this process (Headey et al. 20141423). However, in some contexts, such as pastoralist communities in Xinjiang, China, income diversification was not found to improve the welfare of pastoral households (Liao et al. 20151424). Economic transformations also occur through urbanisation, involving the shift of labour from rural areas into gainful employment in urban areas (Jedwab and Vollrath 20151425). The majority of world population will be living in urban centres in the 21st century and this will require innovative means of agricultural production with minimum ecological footprint and less dependence on fossil fuels (Revi and Rosenzweig 20131426), while addressing the demand of cities (see Section 4.9.1 for discussion on urban green infrastructure). Although there is some evidence of urbanisation leading to the loss of indigenous and local ecological knowledge, however, indigenous and local knowledge systems are constantly evolving, and are also being integrated into urban environments (Júnior et al. 20161427; Reyes-García et al. 20131429; van Andel and Carvalheiro 20131430). Urban areas are attracting an increasing number of rural residents across the developing world (Angel et al. 20111431; Cour 20011432; Dahiya 20121433). Urban development contributes to expedited agricultural commercialisation by providing market outlet for cash crops, high-value crops, and livestock products. At the same time, urbanisation also poses numerous challenges in the form of rapid urban sprawl and pressures on infrastructure and public services, unemployment and associated social risks, which have considerable implications on climate change adaptive capacities (Bulkeley 20131434; Garschagen and Romero-Lankao 20151435).


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