A recent article in Pacific Standard magazine cited research conducted by CAP scientist Kelli Larson on residential landscapes in Phoenix. Larson’s work has focused on understanding household decision-making regarding residential landscaping across several neighborhoods in the Phoenix metropolitan area. This work has been folded into a larger research initiative, the Ecological Homogenization of Urban America, involving six US metropolitan areas (Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Phoenix) that examines whether residential neighborhoods across the United States are ecologically similar. CAP scientist Sharon Hall is also an investigator on this project, which is associated with several Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites.
Christopher Boone, Interim Dean of Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability and co-PI of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) program, and Michail Fragkias, Visiting Professor at Boise State University and former Executive Director of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change program based in the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, have tackled the pressing issues posed by the “urban century” in their edited volume, Urbanization and sustainability: Linking urban ecology, environmental justice and global environmental change.
This book brings together a range of scholars from urban ecology, environmental justice, and global environmental change research. In doing so, the editors have linked ideas, frameworks, and theories from the three fields to provide new, integrated insights on the pathways toward urban sustainability.
Chapters in the book range from a case study of the Million Trees Initiative in Los Angeles to an analysis of the social dimensions of environmental risk in São Paulo City, Brazil as well as more theoretical chapters dealing with the definition of urban sustainability and the contributions of ecological theory to understanding environmental justice.
Scholarship on the Phoenix metropolitan area is featured in a chapter authored by a team of Arizona State University scholars, Bob Bolin, Juan Declet Barreto, Michelle Hegmon, Lisa Meierotto, and Abigail York. Their chapter builds on previous CAP LTER research on the spatial distribution of environmental disamenities and environmental justice. This new research examines shifting vulnerabilities, hazards, and risks in the Phoenix area. While low-income, minority neighborhoods near the urban core have historically borne the brunt of environmental injustice in the metropolitan area, the foreclosure crisis hit the outlying suburbs, which will likely face growing water insecurity due to a reliance on dwindling groundwater resources and a complex set of policies around water rights and groundwater recharge. At the same time, these urban core neighborhoods are expected to face exposure to increased heat under global climate change scenarios.
Boone and Fragkias have contributed a chapter to the volume that examines the connection between environmental justice and sustainability. They argue that “justice is a core yet often ignored principle of sustainability.” They suggest that vulnerability science, which offers a framework for examining human-environment relationships and environmental risk on a mostly regional scale, may serve as a bridge between environmental justice perspectives that focus on local-scale, immediate problems and sustainability perspectives that emphasize long-term thinking on global problems. An integration of principles, practices, and ideas from environmental justice, sustainability, and vulnerability “could be a powerful mix for effecting positive change.”
CAP Director Nancy Grimm and CAP scientist Darren Ruddell are co-authors of a newly-released report, Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwestern US. This report is a contribution to the 2013 National Climate Assessment and focuses on the projected future of the region’s climate. It provides important and timely information to decision makers. Grimm is a co-author under the urban chapter while Ruddell co-authored the chapter on human health.
Jaleila Brumand, a CAP undergraduate student, has received a Fulbright scholarship to the UK. Jaleila has been working with CAP scientist Kelli Larson for the past two years as a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student. Her research focuses on understanding the drivers of residential landscaping decisions in metropolitan Phoenix and culminated in her honor’s thesis, “The effects of formal and informal institutions on residential land management in the Phoenix metropolitan area.” She also authored two publications during her REU experience and has had an opportunity to work with a research team from across several Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites.
In the UK, Jaleila will attend the University of Lancaster on a Fulbright-Lancaster University STEM Award in Science and Technology. She will pursue a MSc in Energy and the Environment, focusing her research on energy vulnerability between the US and UK.
CAP graduate student, Edgar Cardenas, has his photographic work featured in an exhibit at the National Science Foundation, “Ecological Reflections,” which opened on February 28th. The exhibit, which is closed to the public, features 39 artists and writers affiliated with LTER sites based in universities across the United States. Their work involves a range of artistic media, including textiles, watercolors, and photography, as well as poetry and essays.
Cardenas’ work focuses on the Tres Rios constructed wetland, part of a wastewater treatment facility maintained by the City of Phoenix. He has imbedded himself within CAP co-PI Dan Childers’ research group to document the scientific research at Tres Rios while reflecting on what it means to have a vibrant, human-created wetland in the midst of the Sonoran desert.
CAP LTER is actively engaging the arts and humanities in its work through a number of collaborations that explore the nexus between science and human expression and experience.
The Arizona Riparian Council is holding its annual meeting on April 4-6, 2013 in the Convergence Room at ASU SkySong in Scottsdale. The theme of the meeting is “Sustaining Urban Rivers — Visions and Actions across the Southwest: Application for the Salt River through the Phoenix Metro Area.” The program includes presentations, field trips, and a poster session. Please visit the Arizona Riparian Council website for registration and poster abstract submission information.
CAP Ph.D. student Juan Declet-Barreto presented research on vegetation and the urban heat island recently to a seminar of Fulbright scholars held in Phoenix. Declet-Barreto noted that a lack of vegetation in poor Latino neighborhoods drives up temperatures in the already hot summers in the Phoenix area. Planting desert-adapted trees can mitigate this heat. Declet-Barreto’s research is a part of CAP’s ongoing investigations of the urban heat island and the Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change project, funded through a separate grant from the National Science Foundation.
The 2013 winners of the CAP ASM student poster competition have been announced.
First Place: Elizabeth Cook, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University.
Runners-up: David Huber, Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State University; Kevin Kane, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University.
Congratulations to all of these winners. Please see full poster citations and links to the posters below.
Cook, Elizabeth M., Pamela Padgett, and Sharon J. Hall. Effects of Co-occurring Urban Atmospheric Compounds on Desert Herbaceous Plants. (pdf)
Huber, David P., Kathleen A. Lohse, and Sharon J. Hall. Climate Controls the Fate of Anthropogenic Nitrogen Additions in Desert Ecosystems. (pdf)
Kane, Kevin, Abigail M. York, Joseph Tuccillo, Lauren Gentile, and Yun Ouyang. A Spatio-Temporal View of Historical Growth in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, 1915-1963. (pdf)
CAP co-PI Sharon Harlan and the research team on the National Science Foundation-funded “Urban Vulnerability to Climate Change” project are featured in a special issue of International Innovation that focuses on making sense of Earth’s dramatically changing climate. In the article, research team members reflect on the scientific significance and practical applications of their research, which investigates human vulnerability to urban heat in the Phoenix metropolitan area. This research is being conducted in collaboration with CAP LTER, which has supported some of the remote sensing work under the initiative.
Dr. William Solecki, Director, Institute for Sustainable Cities, City University of New York, and Professor, Department of Geography, Hunter College, City University of New York, was the keynote speaker for the 2013 CAP All Scientists Meeting on January 11, 2013. His presentation, “Transitions in urban environmental systems: Lessons from New York City and Hurricane Sandy,” reflects on the past urban environmental system crises and transitions. He notes that the lens of critical transition theory and writings on urban system resilience can be used to sharpen our analytical capacity to study such issues. His presentation makes reference to the case of Hurricane Sandy, which heavily impacted the New York City metropolitan region and is now defined as one of the most damaging disaster events in U.S. history.