The questions presented provide an interesting look over the horizon and suggest emerging issues and concerns. Because the five questions related to Freshwater Ecosystems (#54-58) are of particular interest to me, I list them in full below:
- How can freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem service values best be incorporated in the design of water-provisioning schemes for direct human use and food production?
- Which aquatic species and communities are most vulnerable to human impacts, and how would their degradation affect the provision of ecosystem services?
- Where will the impacts of global climate change on hydrology be most extreme, and how might they affect freshwater species and the ability of wetlands and inland waters to deliver ecosystem services?
- Which multinational governance, cross-sector cooperation arrangements, and finance mechanisms will make freshwater ecosystem management more effective and reduce international conflicts over water?
- How does investment in restoration of wetlands and riparian areas compare with construction of dams and flood defenses in providing cost-effective improvements in flood management and the storage and retention of water for domestic, industrial, and
The third question, related to climate change impacts on freshwater systems, is particularly relevant to those of use living in mid-continent, mid-latitude locations, a fact underscored by a feature article in today's Strib on water quality in west-metro lakes. Reduced rainfall last summer appeared to limit external nutrient loading thus resulting in clearer water. In contrast, and more locally, our data from Grace Lake suggest that longer hotter summers, which result in extended periods of stratification and consequent increased internal loading, will result in dramatic increases in mid-summer algal growth with corresponding shifts in fish communities and overall aesthetic appeal. In any case, a changing climate will fundamentally reshape the dynamics of ecological processes in our lakes and rivers (in ways we are only beginning to understand).
Note: The fifth freshwater question is also especially relevant regionally given the extent of northern Minnesota wetlands and the on-going flood related issues in the Red River Valley.