Event Title

Challenges to River Science and River Restoration in the Anthropocene: Examples from California and Montana

Presenter Information

Johnnie N. Moore

Location

ECC 216

Event Website

http://water.usu.edu/htm/conference/past-spring-runoff-conferences

Start Date

6-4-2007 8:30 AM

End Date

6-4-2007 9:10 AM

Description

The Earth has undergone substantial change in response to natural processes (i.e., nonanthropogenic) since its origin 4.6 billion years ago. Now, during the Anthropocene, human actions rival or surpass many geologic, geophysical and biological processes. Geologically, humans now move many times more material than all geologic processes combined. Globally, humans now sequester >20% of net primary production (in some regions as much as 70%) having profound affects on biodiversity, the composition of the atmosphere and ecosystem services. Energy demand associated with human population growth has mined large proportions of the geologic carbon reservoir and dramatically increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, forcing climate change and warming the Earth. Continued growth in population and resource use will undoubtedly prolong these trends, forcing natural process responses and complete reorganization of ecosystems at regional and global scales. Future advances in aquatic and ecosystem sciences will depend on understanding how humans have modified natural processes and how we can return these severely perturbed natural systems to quasi natural states—somewhere between total human control and unfettered natural response. The success of that effort will determine how “zoo-like” the non-anthropogenic world of the future will be. Science in the future will need to deal with “wicked” problems, in that massive human alterations have disconnected the past from the future. Nor can we expect to return ecosystems to past conditions—future growth will never allow it. In the Anthropocene, we must therefore find a way to respond to changing conditions that are very difficult to predict. This type of research will require a very long-term effort. We will need to build multipleworking hypotheses and models, test those hypotheses and “ground truth” those models with decades-long monitoring of critical components. This will require a commitment to science at a variety of scales and building a culture of science and exploration in the broader society. This is a huge challenge to scientists and policy makers alike, and it is not clear we are up to it. I will explore examples from California and Montana of how we are doing.

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Apr 6th, 8:30 AM Apr 6th, 9:10 AM

Challenges to River Science and River Restoration in the Anthropocene: Examples from California and Montana

ECC 216

The Earth has undergone substantial change in response to natural processes (i.e., nonanthropogenic) since its origin 4.6 billion years ago. Now, during the Anthropocene, human actions rival or surpass many geologic, geophysical and biological processes. Geologically, humans now move many times more material than all geologic processes combined. Globally, humans now sequester >20% of net primary production (in some regions as much as 70%) having profound affects on biodiversity, the composition of the atmosphere and ecosystem services. Energy demand associated with human population growth has mined large proportions of the geologic carbon reservoir and dramatically increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, forcing climate change and warming the Earth. Continued growth in population and resource use will undoubtedly prolong these trends, forcing natural process responses and complete reorganization of ecosystems at regional and global scales. Future advances in aquatic and ecosystem sciences will depend on understanding how humans have modified natural processes and how we can return these severely perturbed natural systems to quasi natural states—somewhere between total human control and unfettered natural response. The success of that effort will determine how “zoo-like” the non-anthropogenic world of the future will be. Science in the future will need to deal with “wicked” problems, in that massive human alterations have disconnected the past from the future. Nor can we expect to return ecosystems to past conditions—future growth will never allow it. In the Anthropocene, we must therefore find a way to respond to changing conditions that are very difficult to predict. This type of research will require a very long-term effort. We will need to build multipleworking hypotheses and models, test those hypotheses and “ground truth” those models with decades-long monitoring of critical components. This will require a commitment to science at a variety of scales and building a culture of science and exploration in the broader society. This is a huge challenge to scientists and policy makers alike, and it is not clear we are up to it. I will explore examples from California and Montana of how we are doing.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/runoff/2007/AllAbstracts/40