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Pueyo S.,Institute Catala Of Ciencies Del Clima Ic3
Landscape Ecology | Year: 2011

There is an ongoing controversy on the use of the patch-size distribution as an early warning signal for abrupt shifts to a desertified state in Mediterranean arid landscapes. This controversy started with Kéfi et al.'s suggestion that, when approaching the transition point to widespread desertification, vegetation patches would switch from a power-law (PL) to a truncated power-law (TPL) distribution. Here I show that, for fundamental reasons, no untruncated power law can be found in this context, irrespective of the level of degradation. This result does not deny the importance of the findings by Kéfi et al., but means that these have to be reinterpreted by moving from the PL/TPL dichotomy to other categorizations of the patch-size distribution. Physical constraints on patch-size distributions have general interest for landscape ecology. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Ballester J.,Institute Catala Of Ciencies Del Clima Ic3 | Robine J.-M.,French Institute of Health and Medical Research | Herrmann F.R.,University of Geneva | Rodo X.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies
Nature Communications | Year: 2011

The steady increase in greenhouse gas concentrations is inducing a detectable rise in global temperatures. The sensitivity of human societies to warming temperatures is, however, a transcendental question not comprehensively addressed to date. Here we show the link between temperature, humidity and daily numbers of deaths in nearly 200 European regions, which are subsequently used to infer transient projections of mortality under state-of-the-art high-resolution greenhouse gas scenario simulations. Our analyses point to a change in the seasonality of mortality, with maximum monthly incidence progressively shifting from winter to summer. The results also show that the rise in heat-related mortality will start to completely compensate the reduction of deaths from cold during the second half of the century, amounting to an average drop in human lifespan of up 3-4 months in 2070-2100. Nevertheless, projections suggest that human lifespan might indeed increase if a substantial degree of adaptation to warm temperatures takes place. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Pueyo S.,Institute Catala Of Ciencies Del Clima Ic3
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2014

This paper outlines a synthesis of ecological economics with econophysics and other complexity approaches to economics. Arguably, the resulting "ecological econophysics" will be scientifically sounder than mainstream economics and much better suited to addressing a major challenge of our times: the development of democratically-based policies to reduce economic throughput to an environmentally sustainable level without triggering economic crises and without excluding part of the world's population, i.e., to implement degrowth. Degrowth will need major structural changes, which leads us to question whether there are limits to the malleability of the economic system's architecture. A fundamental limit will be encountered if, as suggested by the physics of complexity, long-lasting complex systems always occur midway between an ordered and a disordered state. There is much evidence that this hypothesis holds and that the current economic system satisfies this condition. However, this does not mean that the problems posed by this system should be unavoidable. Ecological econophysics gives clues to identifying alternative economic systems that would also function between order and chaos, but which would have radically different implications for environmental sustainability and social justice. © 2014 by the author.

Lowe R.,Abdus Salam International Center For Theoretical Physics | Lowe R.,Institute Catala Of Ciencies Del Clima Ic3 | Chirombo J.,Ministry of Health | Tompkins A.M.,Abdus Salam International Center For Theoretical Physics
Malaria Journal | Year: 2013

Background: Malaria transmission is influenced by variations in meteorological conditions, which impact the biology of the parasite and its vector, but also socio-economic conditions, such as levels of urbanization, poverty and education, which impact human vulnerability and vector habitat. The many potential drivers of malaria, both extrinsic, such as climate, and intrinsic, such as population immunity are often difficult to disentangle. This presents a challenge for the modelling of malaria risk in space and time. Methods. A statistical mixed model framework is proposed to model malaria risk at the district level in Malawi, using an age-stratified spatio-temporal dataset of malaria cases from July 2004 to June 2011. Several climatic, geographic and socio-economic factors thought to influence malaria incidence were tested in an exploratory model. In order to account for the unobserved confounding factors that influence malaria, which are not accounted for using measured covariates, a generalized linear mixed model was adopted, which included structured and unstructured spatial and temporal random effects. A hierarchical Bayesian framework using Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation was used for model fitting and prediction. Results: Using a stepwise model selection procedure, several explanatory variables were identified to have significant associations with malaria including climatic, cartographic and socio-economic data. Once intervention variations, unobserved confounding factors and spatial correlation were considered in a Bayesian framework, a final model emerged with statistically significant predictor variables limited to average precipitation (quadratic relation) and average temperature during the three months previous to the month of interest. Conclusions: When modelling malaria risk in Malawi it is important to account for spatial and temporal heterogeneity and correlation between districts. Once observed and unobserved confounding factors are allowed for, precipitation and temperature in the months prior to the malaria season of interest are found to significantly determine spatial and temporal variations of malaria incidence. Climate information was found to improve the estimation of malaria relative risk in 41% of the districts in Malawi, particularly at higher altitudes where transmission is irregular. This highlights the potential value of climate-driven seasonal malaria forecasts. © 2013 Lowe et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Lowe R.,Institute Catala Of Ciencies Del Clima Ic3
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene | Year: 2015

Dengue is a mosquito-transmitted viral infection of major international public health concern. Global environmental and socio-economic change has created ideal conditions for the global expansion of dengue transmission. Innovative modelling tools help in understanding the global determinants of dengue risk and the relative impact of environmental and socio-economic factors on dengue transmission and spread. While climatic factors may act as a limiting factor on the global scale, other processes may play a dominant role at the local level. Understanding the spatial scales at which environmental and socio-economic factors dominate can help to target appropriate dengue control and prevention strategies. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. All rights reserved.

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