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    Aboveground Forest Biomass Estimation Combining L- and P-Band SAR Acquisitions 

    Schlund, Michael; Davidson, Malcolm
    Remote Sensing 2018; 10(7): Art. 1151
    While considerable research has focused on using either L-band or P-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) on their own for forest biomass retrieval, the use of the two bands simultaneously to improve forest biomass retrieval remains less explored. In this paper, we make use of L- and P-band airborne SAR and in situ data measured in the field together with laser scanning data acquired over one hemi-boreal (Remningstorp) and one boreal (Krycklan) forest study area in Sweden. We fit statistical models to different combinations of topographic-corrected SAR backscatter and forest heights estimated from PolInSAR for the biomass estimation, and evaluate retrieval performance in terms of R2 and using 10-fold cross-validation. The study shows that specific combinations of radar observables from L- and P-band lead to biomass predictions that are more accurate in comparison with single-band retrievals. The correlations and accuracies between the combinations of SAR features and aboveground biomass are consistent across the two study areas, whereas the retrieval performance varied for individual bands. P-band-based retrievals were more accurate than L-band for the hemi-boreal Remningstorp site and less accurate than L-band for the boreal Krycklan site. The aboveground biomass levels as well as the ground topography differ between the two sites. The results suggest that P-band is more sensitive to higher biomass and L-band to lower biomass forests. The forest height from PolInSAR improved the results at L-band in the higher biomass substantially, whereas no improvement was observed at P-band in both study areas. These results are relevant in the context of combining information over boreal forests from future low-frequency SAR missions such as the European Space Agency (ESA) BIOMASS mission, which will operate at P-band, and future L-band missions planned by several space agencies.
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    Metallic Iron (Fe0) Provide Possible Solution to Universal Safe Drinking Water Provision 

    Noubactep, Chicgoua
    Journal of Water Technology and Treatment Methods 2018; 1(1)
    The use of metallic iron (Fe0) for environmental remediation is applied industrially with a great degree of empiricism. Rules of thumb seem to be the only guide followed by the greater part of the Fe0 remediation community. The present communication demonstrates the validity of such a harsh statement and hopes that the research community will now follow the 10-year-old path concealing Fe0 remediation and mainstream science. A promising application is safe drinking water provision on a decentralized manner.
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    Avoiding the Use of Exhausted Drinking Water Filters: A Filter-Clock Based on Rusting Iron 

    Ndé-Tchoupé, Arnaud; Lufingo, Mesia; Hu, Rui; Gwenzi, Willis; Ntwampe, Seteno; Noubactep, Chicgoua; Njau, Karoli
    Water 2018; 10(5): Art. 591
    Efficient but affordable water treatment technologies are currently sought to solve the prevalent shortage of safe drinking water. Adsorption-based technologies are in the front-line of these efforts. Upon proper design, universally applied materials (e.g., activated carbons, bone chars, metal oxides) are able to quantitatively remove inorganic and organic pollutants as well as pathogens from water. Each water filter has a defined removal capacity and must be replaced when this capacity is exhausted. Operational experience has shown that it may be difficult to convince some low-skilled users to buy new filters after a predicted service life. This communication describes the quest to develop a filter-clock to encourage all users to change their filters after the designed service life. A brief discussion on such a filter-clock based on rusting of metallic iron (Fe0) is presented. Integrating such filter-clocks in the design of water filters is regarded as essential for safeguarding public health.
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    Land Surface Temperature Variation Due to Changes in Elevation in Northwest Vietnam 

    Phan, Thanh; Kappas, Martin; Tran, Trong
    Climate 2018; 6(2): Art. 28
    Land surface temperature (LST) is one of the most important variables for applications relating to the physics of land surface processes. LST rapidly changes in both space and time, and knowledge of LST and its spatiotemporal variation is essential to understand the interactions between human activity and the environment. This study investigates the spatiotemporal variation of LST according to changes in elevation. The newest version (version 6) of MODIS LST data for 2015 was used. An area of 40,000 km2 (200 × 200 km2) in northwest Vietnam with elevations ranging from 8 m to 3165 m was chosen as a case study. Our results showed that the drop in LST with increased elevation varied throughout the year during both the daytime and nighttime. The monthly averages in 2015 and an altitude increase of 1000 m resulted in a decrease in LST ranging from 3.8 °C to 6.1 °C and 1.5 °C to 5.8 °C for the daytime and nighttime, respectively. This suggests that in any study relating to the spatial distribution of LST, the effect of elevation on LST should be considered. In addition, the effects of land use/cover and elevation distribution on the relationship between LST and elevation are discussed.
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    Climate effects on vegetation vitality at the treeline of boreal forests of Mongolia 

    Klinge, Michael; Dulamsuren, Choimaa; Erasmi, Stefan; Karger, Dirk Nikolaus; Hauck, Markus
    Biogeosciences 2018; 15(5) p.1319-1333
    In northern Mongolia, at the southern boundary of the Siberian boreal forest belt, the distribution of steppe and forest is generally linked to climate and topography, making this region highly sensitive to climate change and human impact. Detailed investigations on the limiting parameters of forest and steppe in different biomes provide necessary information for paleoenvironmental reconstruction and prognosis of potential landscape change. In this study, remote sensing data and gridded climate data were analyzed in order to identify main distribution patterns of forest and steppe in Mongolia and to detect environmental factors driving forest development. Forest distribution and vegetation vitality derived from the normalized differentiated vegetation index (NDVI) were investigated for the three types of boreal forest present in Mongolia (taiga, subtaiga and forest–steppe), which cover a total area of 73 818 km2. In addition to the forest type areas, the analysis focused on subunits of forest and nonforested areas at the upper and lower treeline, which represent ecological borders between vegetation types. Climate and NDVI data were analyzed for a reference period of 15 years from 1999 to 2013. The presented approach for treeline delineation by identifying representative sites mostly bridges local forest disturbances like fire or tree cutting. Moreover, this procedure provides a valuable tool to distinguish the potential forested area. The upper treeline generally rises from 1800 m above sea level (a.s.l.) in the northeast to 2700 m a.s.l. in the south. The lower treeline locally emerges at 1000 m a.s.l. in the northern taiga and rises southward to 2500 m a.s.l. The latitudinal gradient of both treelines turns into a longitudinal one on the eastern flank of mountain ranges due to higher aridity caused by rain-shadow effects. Less productive trees in terms of NDVI were identified at both the upper and lower treeline in relation to the respective total boreal forest type area. The mean growing season temperature (MGST) of 7.9–8.9 °C and a minimum MGST of 6 °C are limiting parameters at the upper treeline but are negligible for the lower treeline. The minimum of the mean annual precipitation (MAP) of 230–290 mm yr−1 is a limiting parameter at the lower treeline but also at the upper treeline in the forest–steppe ecotone. In general, NDVI and MAP are lower in grassland, and MGST is higher compared to the corresponding boreal forest. One exception occurs at the upper treeline of the subtaiga and taiga, where the alpine vegetation consists of mountain meadow mixed with shrubs. The relation between NDVI and climate data corroborates that more precipitation and higher temperatures generally lead to higher greenness in all ecological subunits. MGST is positively correlated with MAP of the total area of forest–steppe, but this correlation turns negative in the taiga. The limiting factor in the forest–steppe is the relative humidity and in the taiga it is the snow cover distribution. The subtaiga represents an ecological transition zone of approximately 300 mm yr−1 precipitation, which occurs independently from the MGST. Since the treelines are mainly determined by climatic parameters, the rapid climate change in inner Asia will lead to a spatial relocation of tree communities, treelines and boreal forest types. However, a direct deduction of future tree vitality, forest composition and biomass trends from the recent relationships between NDVI and climate parameters is challenging. Besides human impact, it must consider bio- and geoecological issues like, for example, tree rejuvenation, temporal lag of climate adaptation and disappearing permafrost.
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    Ideas and perspectives: hydrothermally driven redistribution and sequestration of early Archaean biomass – the “hydrothermal pump hypothesis” 

    Duda, Jan-Peter; Thiel, Volker; Bauersachs, Thorsten; Mißbach, Helge; Reinhardt, Manuel; Schäfer, Nadine; Van Kranendonk, Martin J.; Reitner, Joachim
    Biogeosciences 2018; 15(5) p.1535-1548
    Archaean hydrothermal chert veins commonly contain abundant organic carbon of uncertain origin (abiotic vs. biotic). In this study, we analysed kerogen contained in a hydrothermal chert vein from the ca. 3.5 Ga Dresser Formation (Pilbara Craton, Western Australia). Catalytic hydropyrolysis (HyPy) of this kerogen yielded n-alkanes up to n-C22, with a sharp decrease in abundance beyond n-C18. This distribution ( n-C18) is very similar to that observed in HyPy products of recent bacterial biomass, which was used as reference material, whereas it differs markedly from the unimodal distribution of abiotic compounds experimentally formed via Fischer–Tropsch-type synthesis. We therefore propose that the organic matter in the Archaean chert veins has a primarily microbial origin. The microbially derived organic matter accumulated in anoxic aquatic (surface and/or subsurface) environments and was then assimilated, redistributed and sequestered by the hydrothermal fluids (“hydrothermal pump hypothesis”)
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    The Suitability of Pozzolan as Admixing Aggregate for Fe0-Based Filters 

    Ndé-Tchoupé, Arnaud; Makota, Suzanne; Nassi, Achille; Hu, Rui; Noubactep, Chicgoua
    Water 2018; 10(4) p.1-17: Art. 417
    Continuous gravity-fed column experiments using the methylene blue (MB) discoloration method were performed to characterize the suitability of a pozzolan (PZ) specimen as alternative admixing aggregate for metallic iron filters (Fe0-filters). Investigated systems were: (i) pure sand, (ii) pure PZ, (iii) pure Fe0, (iv) Fe0/sand, (v) Fe0/PZ, and (vi) Fe0/sand/PZ. The volumetric proportion of Fe0 was 25%. The volumetric proportions of the Fe0/sand/PZ system was 25/45/30. The initial MB concentration was 2.0 mg L􀀀1, 6.0 g of Fe0 was used, and the experiments lasted for 46 days. The individual systems were fed with 3.9 to 8.4 L (7.80 to 16.69 mg of MB) and were characterized by the time-dependent changes of: (i) the pH value, (ii) the iron breakthrough, (iii) the MB breakthrough, and (iv) the hydraulic conductivity. Results showed that the Fe0/sand/PZ system was the most efficient. This ternary system was also the most permeable and therefore the most sustainable. The suitability of MB as a powerful operative indicator for the characterization of processes in the Fe0/H2O system was confirmed. The tested PZ is recommended as an alternative material for efficient but sustainable Fe0 filters.
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    Snowmobile impacts on snowpack physical and mechanical properties 

    Fassnacht, Steven R.; Heath, Jared T.; Venable, Niah B. H.; Elder, Kelly J.
    The Cryosphere 2018; 12(3) p.1121-1135
    Snowmobile use is a popular form of winter recreation in Colorado, particularly on public lands. To examine the effects of differing levels of use on snowpack properties, experiments were performed at two different areas, Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs and at Fraser Experimental Forest near Fraser, Colorado USA. Differences between no use and varying degrees of snowmobile use (low, medium and high) on shallow (the operational standard of 30 cm) and deeper snowpacks (120 cm) were quantified and statistically assessed using measurements of snow density, temperature, stratigraphy, hardness, and ram resistance from snow pit profiles. A simple model was explored that estimated snow density changes from snowmobile use based on experimental results. Snowpack property changes were more pronounced for thinner snow accumulations. When snowmobile use started in deeper snow conditions, there was less difference in density, hardness, and ram resistance compared to the control case of no snowmobile use. These results have implications for the management of snowmobile use in times and places of shallower snow conditions where underlying natural resources could be affected by denser and harder snowpacks.
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    Comparison of Random Forest, k-Nearest Neighbor, and Support Vector Machine Classifiers for Land Cover Classification Using Sentinel-2 Imagery. 

    Thanh Noi, Phan; Kappas, Martin
    Sensors (Basel, Switzerland) 2017; 18(1) p.1-20
    In previous classification studies, three non-parametric classifiers, Random Forest (RF), k-Nearest Neighbor (kNN), and Support Vector Machine (SVM), were reported as the foremost classifiers at producing high accuracies. However, only a few studies have compared the performances of these classifiers with different training sample sizes for the same remote sensing images, particularly the Sentinel-2 Multispectral Imager (MSI). In this study, we examined and compared the performances of the RF, kNN, and SVM classifiers for land use/cover classification using Sentinel-2 image data. An area of 30 × 30 km² within the Red River Delta of Vietnam with six land use/cover types was classified using 14 different training sample sizes, including balanced and imbalanced, from 50 to over 1250 pixels/class. All classification results showed a high overall accuracy (OA) ranging from 90% to 95%. Among the three classifiers and 14 sub-datasets, SVM produced the highest OA with the least sensitivity to the training sample sizes, followed consecutively by RF and kNN. In relation to the sample size, all three classifiers showed a similar and high OA (over 93.85%) when the training sample size was large enough, i.e., greater than 750 pixels/class or representing an area of approximately 0.25% of the total study area. The high accuracy was achieved with both imbalanced and balanced datasets.
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    Rescuing Fe0 remediation research from its systemic flaws 

    Noubactep, Chicgoua; Makota, Suzanne; Bandyopadhyay, Amitava
    Research and Review Insights 2017; 1(4) p.1-8
    The well-accepted assumption of metallic iron (Fe0) acting as electron donor for environmental remediation has created an unstable domain of knowledge for the past 23 years. This assumption is discouraging some outstanding and prospective scientists from correctly interpreting their experimental results. Such a situation is a recipe for long-term decline. The critical situation cannot be solved with simplistic approaches. It is now imperative to develop an understanding to defend the difficulties of this assumption and re-orient Fe0 mediated remediation research as a whole.
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    Effect of iron and nanolites on Raman spectra of volcanic glasses: A reassessment of existing strategies to estimate the water content 

    Di Genova, Danilo; Sicola, Stefania; Romano, Claudia; Vona, Alessandro; Fanara, Sara; Spina, Laura
    Chemical Geology 2017; 475 p.76-86
    The effect of iron content and iron nanolites on Raman spectra of hydrous geologically-relevant glasses is presented. Current procedures to estimate the water content using Raman spectra were tested to explore potential effects of iron content, its oxidation state, and nanolites on models' reliability. A chemical interval spanning from basalt to rhyolite, including alkali- and iron-rich compositions, with water content up to 5.6 wt% was investigated using two spectrometers. When considering nanolite-free samples, the area of the band at 3550 cm−1 linearly correlates with the sample water content regardless of chemical composition. Using this approach, data were reproduced with a root-mean-square error (RMSE) of ~ 0.15 wt%. Depending on the sample chemistry, water content, and acquisition conditions the laser-induced sample oxidation led to underestimating the water content up to ~ 90% with a long acquisition time (26 min). Normalising the water band region to the silicate band region minimises such a limitation. The area ratio between these bands linearly correlates with the water content and the use of different baseline procedures does not remove the dependence of such a correlation by the iron content and its oxidation state. With this procedure, data were reproduced with a RMSE of ~ 0.16 wt%. For both approaches, the presence of iron nanolites may result in underestimating the water content.
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    Exhumation history and landscape evolution of the Sierra de San Luis (Sierras Pampeanas, Argentina) - new insights from low - temperature thermochronological data 

    Bense, Frithjof; Costa, Carlos; Oriolo, Sebastián; Löbens, Stefan; Dunkl, Istvan; Wemmer, Klaus; Siegesmund, Siegfried
    Andean Geology 2017; 44(3)
    This paper presents low-temperature thermochronological data and K‑Ar fault gouge ages from the Sierra de San Luis in the Eastern Sierras Pampeanas in order to constrain its low-temperature thermal evolution and exhumation history. Thermal modelling based on (U-Th)/He dating of apatite and zircon and apatite fission track dating point to the Middle Permian and the Triassic/Early Jurassic as main cooling/exhumation phases, equivalent to ca. 40-50% of the total exhumation recorded by the applied methods. Cooling rates are generally low to moderate, varying between 2-10 °C/Ma during the Permian and Triassic periods and 0.5-1.5 °C/Ma in post-Triassic times. Slow cooling and, thus, persistent residence of samples in partial retention/partial annealing temperature conditions strongly influenced obtained ages. Thermochronological data indicate no significant exhumation after Cretaceous times, suggesting that sampled rocks were already at or near surface by the Cretaceous or even before. As consequence, Cenozoic cooling rates are low, generally between 0.2-0.5 °C/Ma which is, depending on geothermal gradient used for calculation, equivalent to a total Cenozoic exhumation of 0.6-1.8 km. K-Ar fault gouge data reveal long-term brittle fault activity. Fault gouge ages constrain the end of ductile and onset of brittle deformation in the Sierra de San Luis to the Late Carboniferous/Early Permian. Youngest K-Ar illite ages of 222-172 Ma are interpreted to represent the last illite formation event, although fault activity is recorded up to the Holocene.
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    Quantitative assessment of carbon sequestration reduction induced by disturbances in temperate Eurasian steppe 

    Chen, Yizhao; Ju, Weimin; Groisman, Pavel; Li, Jianlong; Propastin, Pavel; Xu, Xia; Zhou, Wei; Ruan, Honghua
    Environmental Research Letters 2017; 12(11): Art. 115005
    The temperate Eurasian steppe (TES) is a region where various environmental, social, and economic stresses converge. Multiple types of disturbance exist widely across the landscape, and heavily influence carbon cycling in this region. However, a current quantitative assessment of the impact of disturbances on carbon sequestration is largely lacking. In this study, we combined the boreal ecosystem productivity simulator (BEPS), the Shiyomi grazing model, and the global fire model (Glob-FIRM) to investigate the impact of the two major types of disturbance in the TES (i.e. domestic grazing and fire) on regional carbon sequestration. Model performance was validated using satellite data and field observations. Model outputs indicate that disturbance has a significant impact on carbon sequestration at a regional scale. The annual total carbon lost due to disturbances was 7.8 TgCyr−1, accounting for 14.2% of the total net ecosystem productivity (NEP). Domestic grazing plays the dominant role in terrestrial carbon consumption, accounting for 95% of the total carbon lost from the two disturbances. Carbon losses from both disturbances significantly increased from 1999 to 2008 (R2=0.82, P < 0.001 for grazing, R2=0.51, P<0.05 for fire). Heavy domestic grazing in relatively barren grasslands substantially reduced carbon sequestration, particularly in the grasslands of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the far southwest of Inner Mongolia. This spatially-explicit information has potential implications for sustainable management of carbon sequestration in the vast grassland ecosystems.
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    Trachyte weathering in the urban built environment related to air quality 

    Germinario, Luigi; Siegesmund, Siegfried; Maritan, Lara; Simon, Klaus; Mazzoli, Claudio
    Heritage Science 2017; 5(1): Art. 44
    Decay of trachyte used as building stone in urban environment was investigated through the analysis of crusts and patinas found on trachyte of the Euganean Hills in the Renaissance city walls of Padua, northeastern Italy. Mineralogical and microstructural characteristics of the alteration products, as well as major- and trace-element chemical composition, were determined by optical microscopy, SEM–EDS and X-ray mapping, XRPD, and LA-ICPMS. The results are discussed referring to environmental parameters, in particular concerning air quality and anthropic pollution sources. The influence of composition of the stone and other neighboring materials on specific weathering processes is also debated. The formation of crusts and patinas turns out to be mainly due to exogenous processes. Enrichment in heavy metals and carbonaceous matter derives from the deposition of particulate emitted during fuel combustion by road vehicles, domestic heating and, secondarily, industrial activities. The particulate is typically cemented by calcite, mainly mobilized after dissolution from nearby mortar joints, or iron, released by leaching from iron-bearing minerals, reprecipitated according to pH fluctuations. Gypsum layers were rarely observed. Generally, composition of the weathering crusts and patinas of Euganean trachyte proves to be an informative marker for the relevant environmental conditions and their evolution.
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    Fast methane diffusion at the interface of two clathrate structures. 

    Ranieri, Umbertoluca; Koza, Michael Marek; Kuhs, Werner F.; Klotz, Stefan; Falenty, Andrzej; Gillet, Philippe; Bove, Livia E.
    Nature communications 2017-10-20; 8(1): Art. 1076
    Methane hydrates naturally form on Earth and in the interiors of some icy bodies of the Universe, and are also expected to play a paramount role in future energy and environmental technologies. Here we report experimental observation of an extremely fast methane diffusion at the interface of the two most common clathrate hydrate structures, namely clathrate structures I and II. Methane translational diffusion-measured by quasielastic neutron scattering at 0.8 GPa-is faster than that expected in pure supercritical methane at comparable pressure and temperature. This phenomenon could be an effect of strong confinement or of methane aggregation in the form of micro-nanobubbles at the interface of the two structures. Our results could have implications for understanding the replacement kinetics during sI-sII conversion in gas exchange experiments and for establishing the methane mobility in methane hydrates embedded in the cryosphere of large icy bodies in the Universe.
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    A fossil species of the enigmatic early polypod fern genus Cystodium (Cystodiaceae) in Cretaceous amber from Myanmar. 

    Regalado, Ledis; Schmidt, Alexander R.; Appelhans, Marc S.; Ilsemann, Bork; Schneider, Harald; Krings, Michael; Heinrichs, Jochen
    Scientific reports 2017-11-06; 7(1): Art. 14615
    The monospecific fern genus Cystodium (Cystodiaceae; Polypodiales) occurs exclusively in the tropical forests of the Malay Archipelago, the Admiralty Islands, the Louisiade Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands. Divergence time estimates suggest that the genus originated in the Mesozoic; however, fossil evidence to validate this suggestion has been lacking. Amber from Myanmar (Burmese amber) is an important source of new information on the diversity of vascular cryptogams in the Cretaceous. This paper describes the fossil taxon Cystodium sorbifolioides nov. sp. based on a fragment of a fertile leaf preserved in Burmese amber that represents the first fossil evidence of the family Cystodiaceae. Cystodium sorbifolioides is used to obtain a minimum age estimate for the Cystodiaceae and the closely related, monogeneric Lonchitidaceae and Lindsaeaceae. The fossil strengthens the hypothesis that the forest ecosystems of Malesia and Melanesia represent refugia for many tropical plant lineages that originated in the Cretaceous.
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    Sustainability impact assessment of peatland-use scenarios: Confronting land use supply with demand 

    Hermanns, Till; Helming, Katharina; König, Hannes J.; Schmidt, Katharina; Li, Qirui; Faust, Heiko
    Ecosystem Services 2017; 26 p.365-376
    Sustainable development of land use is determined by changes of the regional supply of Land Use Functions (LUFs) and the demand of future societal land use claims. LUFs are based on the ecosystem services concept, but more adapted to human land use. In this paper, we assessed two peatland-use scenarios towards sustainable development in Northeast Germany in order to understand their impacts on LUFs and land use claims. For this, we extended an analytical framework designed to confront LUFs with land use claims identified in multi-level stakeholder strategies in a participatory manner. The sustainability assessment was performed with peatlanduse scenarios “Services for services” and “Market determines usage” that favoured environmental and economic land use claims, respectively. Findings revealed possible trade-offs between land use claims for biomass production and regional value creation as well as for peatlands` carbon and nutrient sink, and habitat functions. The core achievement is an extended sustainability assessment framework integrating land use demands of multi-level stakeholder strategies into participatory impact assessment, in a way that land use claims serve as benchmarks for LUFs. This facilitates the understanding of sustainable land use in both supply and demand perspective, and the normative evaluation of ecosystem services.
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    Contemporaneous assembly of Western Gondwana and final Rodinia break-up: Implications for the supercontinent cycle 

    Oriolo, Sebastián; Oyhantçabal, Pedro; Wemmer, Klaus; Siegesmund, Siegfried
    Geoscience Frontiers 2017; 8(6) p.1431-1445
    Geological, geochronological and isotopic data are integrated in order to present a revised model for the Neoproterozoic evolution of Western Gondwana. Although the classical geodynamic scenario assumed for the period 800e700 Ma is related to Rodinia break-up and the consequent opening of major oceanic basins, a significantly different tectonic evolution can be inferred for most Western Gondwana cratons. These cratons occupied a marginal position in the southern hemisphere with respect to Rodinia and recorded subduction with back-arc extension, island arc development and limited formation of oceanic crust in internal oceans. This period was thus characterized by increased crustal growth in Western Gondwana, resulting from addition of juvenile continental crust along convergent margins. In contrast, crustal reworking and metacratonization were dominant during the subsequent assembly of Gondwana. The Río de la Plata, Congo-São Francisco, West African and Amazonian cratons collided at ca. 630 e600 Ma along the West Gondwana Orogen. These events overlap in time with the onset of the opening of the Iapetus Ocean at ca. 610e600 Ma, which gave rise to the separation of Baltica, Laurentia and Amazonia and resulted from the final Rodinia break-up. The East African/Antarctic Orogen recorded the subsequent amalgamation of Western and Eastern Gondwana after ca. 580 Ma, contemporaneously with the beginning of subduction in the Terra Australis Orogen along the southern Gondwana margin. However, the Kalahari Craton was lately incorporated during the Late EdiacaraneEarly Cambrian. The proposed Gondwana evolution rules out the existence of Pannotia, as the final Gondwana amalgamation postdates latest connections between Laurentia and Amazonia. Additionally, a combination of introversion and extroversion is proposed for the assembly of Gondwana. The contemporaneous record of final Rodinia break-up and Gondwana assembly has major implications for the supercontinent cycle, as supercontinent amalgamation and break-up do not necessarily represent alternating episodic processes but overlap in time.
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    Relict high-Andean ecosystems challenge our concepts of naturalness and human impact 

    Sylvester, Steven P.; Heitkamp, Felix; Sylvester, Mitsy D. P. V.; Jungkunst, Hermann F.; Sipman, Harrie J. M.; Toivonen, Johanna M.; Gonzales Inca, Carlos A.; Ospina, Juan C.; Kessler, Michael
    Scientific Reports 2017; 7(1): Art. 3334
    What would current ecosystems be like without the impact of mankind? This question, which is critical for ecosystem management, has long remained unanswered due to a lack of present-day data from truly undisturbed ecosystems. Using mountaineering techniques, we accessed pristine relict ecosystems in the Peruvian Andes to provide this baseline data and compared it with the surrounding accessible and disturbed landscape. We show that natural ecosystems and human impact in the high Andes are radically different from preconceived ideas. Vegetation of these ‘lost worlds’ was dominated by plant species previously unknown to science that have become extinct in nearby human-affected ecosystems. Furthermore, natural vegetation had greater plant biomass with potentially as much as ten times more forest, but lower plant diversity. Contrary to our expectations, soils showed relatively little degradation when compared within a vegetation type, but differed mainly between forest and grassland ecosystems. At the landscape level, a presumed large-scale forest reduction resulted in a nowadays more acidic soilscape with higher carbon storage, partly ameliorating carbon loss through deforestation. Human impact in the high Andes, thus, had mixed effects on biodiversity, while soils and carbon stocks would have been mainly indirectly affected through a suggested large-scale vegetation change.
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    Franz Kossmat – Subdivision of the Variscan Mountains – a translation of the German text with supplementary notes 

    Meinhold, Guido
    History of Geo- and Space Sciences 2017; 8(1) p.29-51
    This work is in honour of Franz Kossmat (1871–1938) and his esteemed paper the Gliederung des varistischen Gebirgsbaues published 1927 in Abhandlungen des Sächsischen Geologischen Landesamts, Volume 1, pages 1 to 39. It constitutes the foundation of the general subdivision of the Central European Variscides into several geotectonic zones and the idea of large-scale nappe transport of individual units. In the English translation presented here an attempt is made to provide a readable text, which should still reflect Kossmat's style but would also be readable for a non-German speaking community either working in the Variscan Mountains or having specific interests in historical aspects of geosciences. Supplementary notes provide information about Kossmat's life and the content of the text. Kossmat's work is a superb example of how important geological fieldwork and mapping are for progress in geoscientific research.
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