Nature-based solutions in mountain catchments reduce impact of anthropogenic climate change on drought streamflow
Quantifying how well Nature-based Solutions can offset anthropogenic climate change impacts is important for adaptation planning, but has rarely been done. Here we show that a widely-applied Nature-based Solution in South Africa – invasive alien tree clearing – reduces the impact of anthropogenic climate change on drought streamflow. Using a multi-model joint-attribution of climate and landscape-vegetation states during the 2015–2017 Cape Town “Day Zero” drought, we find that anthropogenic climate change reduced streamflow by 12–29% relative to a counterfactual world with anthropogenic emissions removed. This impact on streamflow was larger than corresponding reductions in rainfall (7–15%) and reference evapotranspiration (1.7–2%). Clearing invasive alien trees could have ameliorated streamflow reductions by 3–16% points for moderate invasions levels. Preventing further invasive alien tree spread avoided potential additional reductions of 10–27% points. Total clearing could not have offset the anthropogenic climate change impact completely. Invasive alien tree clearing is an important form of catchment restoration for managing changing hydroclimatic risk, but will need to be combined with other adaptation options as climate change accelerates.
© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Communications Earth & Environment, 2022, available online at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-022-00379-9 . Keywords: attribution; ecosystems services; hydrology.
Holden, P.B., Rebelo, A.J., Wolski, P. et al. Nature-based solutions in mountain catchments reduce impact of anthropogenic climate change on drought streamflow. Commun Earth Environ 3, 51 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00379-9