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Special Issue "Innovative Development for Sustainability in Water Constrained Regions"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Guangwei Huang

Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Sophia University, Japan
E-Mail
Interests: integrated watershed management; sustainability from water perspective; water quality; flood risk management
Guest Editor
Dr. Xin Li

Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
Website | E-Mail
Interests: land data assimilation, application of remote sensing and GIS in hydrology, application of remote sensing and GIS in cryospheric research, integrated watershed study

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Growing pressure on water resources, resulting from population and economic growth, pollution, climate change, and other challenges, has major impacts on our social, economic, and environmental well-being, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, where surface waters are in a shortage, aquifers are being over-pumped, and water quality is becoming increasingly degraded. These water problems stem from our failure to balance human needs with the needs of the natural, which is rooted in ineffective or inappropriate institutions and management, improper economic incentives, and failure to apply the most advanced technologies. Therefore, better water management is a key step toward sustainable development. 

In this Special Issue, we aim to publish original articles, technical notes, and reviews, which address the relationship between water resources management and social and economic development, and explore innovative solutions for problems in arid and semi-arid regions.

Prof. Dr. Guangwei Huang
Prof. Dr. Xin Li
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable development in arid and semi-arid regions
  • integrated water resources planning and management
  • advanced watershed monitoring technologies
  • economic structure adjustment for water use efficiency
  • advanced sustainability theory for arid and semi-arid regions  

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Weight Determination of Sustainable Development Indicators Using a Global Sensitivity Analysis Method
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 303; doi:10.3390/su9020303
Received: 28 November 2016 / Revised: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1721 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable development (SD) evaluations have attracted considerable attention from governments and scientific communities around the world. The objective and quantitative calculation of the importance of sustainable assessment indicators is a key problem in the accurate evaluation of SD. Traditional methods fail to quantify
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Sustainable development (SD) evaluations have attracted considerable attention from governments and scientific communities around the world. The objective and quantitative calculation of the importance of sustainable assessment indicators is a key problem in the accurate evaluation of SD. Traditional methods fail to quantify the coupling effects among indicators. This paper presents a weight determination approach based on the global sensitivity analysis algorithm known as the extended Fourier amplitude sensitivity test (EFAST). This method is efficient and robust and is not only able to quantify the sensitivity of the evaluation indictors to the target, but can also quantitatively describe the uncertainties among the indictors. In this paper, we analyze the sensitivity of 18 indicators in a multi-index comprehensive evaluation model and weigh the indicators in the system according to their importance. To verify the feasibility and advantages of this new method, we compare the evaluation result with the traditional entropy method. The comparison shows that the EFAST algorithm can provide greater detail in an SD evaluation. Additionally, the EFAST algorithm is more specific in terms of quantitative analysis and comprehensive aspects and can more effectively distinguish the importance of indicators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Hydrological Effects of Vegetation Cover Degradation and Environmental Implications in a Semiarid Temperate Steppe, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 281; doi:10.3390/su9020281
Received: 20 October 2016 / Accepted: 9 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (7000 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Studying the impact of vegetation dynamics on hydrological processes is essential for environmental management to reduce ecological environment risk and develop sustainable water management strategies under global warming. This case study simulated the responses of streamflow to vegetation cover degradation under climate variations
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Studying the impact of vegetation dynamics on hydrological processes is essential for environmental management to reduce ecological environment risk and develop sustainable water management strategies under global warming. This case study simulated the responses of streamflow to vegetation cover degradation under climate variations in the Xilin River Basin in a semi-arid steppe of northern China. The snowmelt and river ice melting processes in the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) were improved to estimate the changes in streamflow under multiple scenarios. Results showed that the improved SWAT simulations matched well to the measured monthly streamflow for both calibration (determination coefficient R2 = 0.75 and Nash–Sutcliffe ENS = 0.67) and validation periods (R2 = 0.74 and ENS = 0.68). Simulations of vegetation change revealed that obvious changes occurred in streamflow through conversion between high and low vegetation covers. The reductions in vegetation cover can elevate streamflow in both rainfall and snowmelt season, but the effects are most pronounced during the rainfall seasons (i.e., the growing seasons) and in drier years. These findings highlight the importance of vegetation degradation on modifying the hydrological partitioning in a semi-arid steppe basin. We conclude that in a particular climate zone, vegetation cover change is one of the important contributing factors to streamflow variations. Increases in streamflow in water-limited regions will likely reduce the effective water content of soil, which in turn leads to further degradation risk in vegetation. Therefore, vegetation cover management is one of the most effective and sustainable methods of improving water resources in water-constrained regions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Detecting Sustainability of Desertification Reversion: Vegetation Trend Analysis in Part of the Agro-Pastoral Transitional Zone in Inner Mongolia, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 211; doi:10.3390/su9020211
Received: 29 October 2016 / Revised: 26 January 2017 / Accepted: 31 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract
Vegetation dynamics are an important topic in the field of global environment change, which is of great significance to monitor temporal–spatial variability of desertification at regional or global scales. Following the reported desertification reversion in the late 1990s in the Horqin Sandy Land,
[...] Read more.
Vegetation dynamics are an important topic in the field of global environment change, which is of great significance to monitor temporal–spatial variability of desertification at regional or global scales. Following the reported desertification reversion in the late 1990s in the Horqin Sandy Land, an issue was concerned for desertification control by decreased water availability. To detect the desertification process, MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) sequences were investigated to analyze the effect on vegetation over the 2000–2015 growing season. Results showed that: (1) NDVI sequences exhibited a positive trend in most of the significant pixels (19.1%–44.7% of the total), particularly in the southeastern part of Horqin, while showing a negative trend of 2.2%–4.3%; (2) NDVI was weakly related to precipitation since 2000, because intensified anthropogenic activities have obscured the impacts of climate variables, with a rapid decrease in grassland, and increase in cropland and woodland; and (3) the improved NDVI was interpreted by expanding cropland and excessive groundwater irrigation, according to the positive effect of grain yield on NDVI all over the Horqin area. For persistent desertification reversion, a land use strategy should be more adaptive to the carrying capacity in this agro-pastoral transitional zone, particularly with respect to water capacity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Annual Precipitation Fluctuation and Spatial Differentiation Characteristics of the Horqin Region
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 111; doi:10.3390/su9010111
Received: 1 December 2016 / Revised: 31 December 2016 / Accepted: 4 January 2017 / Published: 13 January 2017
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Abstract
Precipitation is the main water source for vegetation survival in arid and semi-arid areas. However, previous studies always focus on the effects of precipitation in different time scales, but ignore the effects of precipitation in different spatial scales. To further study the effects
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Precipitation is the main water source for vegetation survival in arid and semi-arid areas. However, previous studies always focus on the effects of precipitation in different time scales, but ignore the effects of precipitation in different spatial scales. To further study the effects of precipitation fluctuation in different spatial scales, we used the wavelet analysis method to analyze its temporal and spatial change based on data from eighteen meteorological stations during 1961–2015 in Horqin region. Results showed that: (1) from the overall tendency of precipitation changes, the precipitation inter-annual variations in Horqin region had the tendency of gradually decreasing from the southeast (District IV) to the northwest; (2) the precipitation anomalies of District I–IV between 1960 and 1980 were small and approximate to the normal value; (3) in the time scale of 23–32 years, the cyclical fluctuations were very significant and the annual precipitation underwent two cyclical fluctuations from a period of low precipitation to a period of high precipitation; and (4) as results of analyzing the spatial wavelet variance of sub-region, the main cycle of precipitation in District I, District II and District III was between 10 and 11 years, while the main cycle of precipitation in District IV was 25 years. The main conclusions include the following. (1) This region tended to be arid, and the precipitation gradually decreased from the southeast (District IV) to northwest (District I). (2) The influence of spatial differentiation characteristics on precipitation fluctuation in this region was cyclical fluctuation, which gradually decreased from the southeast to the northwest. The length of the cyclical change period gradually shortened. In the first main cycle, whose annual precipitation changes were most significant, the changing characteristic was District IV and District I decreased from 25 years to 10 years. (3) Predicated from the cyclical changing law that the annual precipitation decreases from high to low, the Horqin region will remain in a period of low precipitation between 2016 and 2020. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Evaluating the Feasibility of Using Produced Water from Oil and Natural Gas Production to Address Water Scarcity in California’s Central Valley
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1318; doi:10.3390/su8121318
Received: 30 October 2016 / Revised: 9 December 2016 / Accepted: 12 December 2016 / Published: 14 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3900 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The current California drought has reduced freshwater availability, creating tensions between water users across the state. Although over 518 million m3 of water were produced during fossil fuel production in California in 2014, the majority was disposed into Class II injection wells.
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The current California drought has reduced freshwater availability, creating tensions between water users across the state. Although over 518 million m 3 of water were produced during fossil fuel production in California in 2014, the majority was disposed into Class II injection wells. There have been few attempts to assess the feasibility of using produced water for beneficial purposes, due in part to the difficulties of accessing, synthesizing and analyzing data regarding produced water quality and quantity. This study addresses this gap and provides a techno-economic assessment of upgrading produced water from California’s oil and natural gas activities and moving it to adjacent water-stressed regions. Results indicate that the four population centers facing the greatest water shortage risk are located in the Central Valley within a 161 km (100 mile) radius of 230 million m 3 of total treatable produced water. This volume can supply up to one million people-years worth of potable water. The cost of desalinating and transporting this water source is comparable in magnitude to some agricultural and local public water supplies and is substantially lower than bottled water. Thus, utilizing reverse osmosis to treat produced water might be a feasible solution to help relieve water scarcity in some drought-stricken regions of California. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Impact of Precipitation Fluctuation on Desert-Grassland ANPP
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1245; doi:10.3390/su8121245
Received: 29 October 2016 / Revised: 23 November 2016 / Accepted: 28 November 2016 / Published: 30 November 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4604 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Precipitation change has significantly influenced annual net primary productivity (ANPP) at either annual or seasonal scales in desert steppes in arid and semi-arid regions. In order to reveal the process of precipitation driving ANPP at different time scales, responses of different ANPP levels
[...] Read more.
Precipitation change has significantly influenced annual net primary productivity (ANPP) at either annual or seasonal scales in desert steppes in arid and semi-arid regions. In order to reveal the process of precipitation driving ANPP at different time scales, responses of different ANPP levels to the inter-annual and intra-annual precipitation fluctuations were analyzed. ANPP was reversed by building a ground reflectance spectrum model, from 2000 to 2015, using the normalized differential vegetation index of the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS-NDVI) data at 250 m × 250 m spatial resolution. Since the description of the differently expressing forms of precipitation are not sufficient in former studies in order to overcome the deficiency of former studies, in this study, intra-annual precipitation fluctuations were analyzed not only with precipitation of May–August, June–August, July–August, and August, respectively, which have direct influence on vegetation productivity within the year, but quantitative description, vector precipitation (R), concentration ratio (Cd), and concentration period (D), were also used to describe the overall characteristics of intra-annual precipitation fluctuations. The concentration ratio and the maximum precipitation period of the intra-annual precipitation were represented by using monthly precipitation. The results showed that: (1) in the period from 1971 to 2015, the maximum annual precipitation is 3.76 times that of the minimum in the Urat desert steppe; (2) vector precipitation is more significantly related to ANPP (r = 0.7724, p = 0.000) compared to meteorological annual precipitation and real annual precipitation influence; and (3) annual precipitation is almost concentrated in 5–8 months and monthly precipitation accumulation has significantly effected ANPP, especially in the period of June–August, since the vegetation composition in the study area was mainly sub-shrubs and perennial grasses, which were more sensitive to precipitation accumulation. These findings suggest that: (1) In the desert steppe, the inter-annual fluctuation and the intra-annual distribution of precipitation have a direct impact on ANPP; (2) the annual vector precipitation showed an extremely significant regression relationship with ANPP; and (3) monthly precipitation fluctuations (May–August) possess the accumulative effect on ANPP during the growing period in the desert steppe, while precipitation accumulation from June to August shows the most significant impact. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Assessment of Downscaling Planetary Boundaries to Semi-Arid Ecosystems with a Local Perception: A Case Study in the Middle Reaches of Heihe River
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1233; doi:10.3390/su8121233
Received: 14 September 2016 / Revised: 18 November 2016 / Accepted: 22 November 2016 / Published: 25 November 2016
PDF Full-text (1776 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The middle reaches of Heihe River are located in the oasis of the Gobi Desert where limited freshwater supply supports more than 1.5 million inhabitants. The intense agricultural activities are depleting the groundwater reserve. Consequently, natural landscapes and habitats are degraded. Though such
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The middle reaches of Heihe River are located in the oasis of the Gobi Desert where limited freshwater supply supports more than 1.5 million inhabitants. The intense agricultural activities are depleting the groundwater reserve. Consequently, natural landscapes and habitats are degraded. Though such development improves the livelihood of the local community, long-term sustainability of the ecosystem is at risk. Local authorities must be informed holistically to prepare for adapting to the changes and/or mitigating the impacts. The purpose of this study was to perform a regional sustainability assessment based on downscaling the planetary boundaries (PBs). We proposed a regional safe operating space framework that applied a top-down approach using the environmental monitoring data, and a bottom-up approach using knowledge from the local perception about environmental disaster. We conducted on-site samplings and interviews of residents to demonstrate the method. Overall, we showed that the middle reaches had transgressed the safe operating space, particularly on the freshwater use and biogeochemical flow dimensions. We found that the local perception acquired from interviews complemented the insufficiency of the monitoring data and provided the insightful social implications of transgressing the safe operating space, i.e., the anticipated impacts on local livelihood, for policy support. Full article
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