About this Research Topic
In memory of Dr. Brij Gopal, an extra ordinary aquatic scientist, an accomplished wetland ecologist, a mentor, and a great friend
Natural wetlands occur in transitional areas between aquatic and terrestrial environments. They provide globally significant social, economic, and environmental benefits. At the same time, wetlands exhibit a high vulnerability to hydrological changes. As the globe continues experiencing changing trends in weather patterns as indicated in climate models, the impacts on both inland and coastal wetlands will continue and possibly intensify. The impacts of climate change will vary depending upon the types, magnitudes, and rates of change in temperature, changes in weather patterns, atmospheric CO2 concentration, and other factors. These impacts are manifested in a wide range of factors varying from changes in community structure to changes in ecological function, and with profound implications for ecosystem services and values. There is no doubt that sustainable use of wetlands is likely to become increasingly crucial under global climate change.
Wetlands provide several critical functions that are essential for sustainable development in many areas. For example, wetlands are important regulators of water quantity and water quality. Wetlands will be affected in different ways by shifts in the hydrological cycle. The quantity and quality of water supplies is already a serious problem today in many regions. The goals of wetland conservation and wise use are unlikely to be achieved without taking climate change into account. The Paris Agreement recognizes the role wetlands play in climate change adaptation. The Ramsar Convention has likewise made a provision for climate change resources in relation to wetlands with a specific focus on Blue Carbon, adaptation and management, wetlands and the carbon cycle, as well as the extent of vulnerability and impacts.
There are a variety of management measures put in place in different parts of the world that aim to increase the resilience of wetlands to climate change through reduction or wholly of partially compensation for impacts. Many of these measures could be justified in terms of societal return based upon non-climate threats to wetlands alone. There are innovative technologies aimed at increasing the protection for existing wetlands and removal of stresses (e.g., water pollution) may not only reduce the sensitivity of plants and animals to small changes in temperature or precipitation, but also achieve broader wetland protection and restoration goals. Furthermore, there is a need to share practical options for protecting wetlands from increased temperature, changes in precipitation, and rapidly rising sea level. There are many questions still unanswered.
The main aim of this Research Topic is to create a forum for wetland scientists to share lessons on solutions, successes, and failures ranging from vulnerability, to adaptation and policy. We welcome manuscripts relating to unanswered questions such as the following:
• To what extend does climate change affect wetlands’ ability to provide ecosystem services, and what are the effects of hydrological changes on water quantity and quality and livelihoods?
• How can we ensure that wetlands meet the current and future societal needs?
• To what extent can restoration and creation offset some of the impacts of climate change, and how can the existing wetland management goals reduce and compensate for possible climate change impacts?
• How can we predict and monitor the impacts of climate change on wetlands?
• Are there acceptable ranges of variability for selected parameters that can guide us on when the positive role of wetlands to ameliorate climate change? Are there cases of successful Ecosystem Based Adaptation?
• To what extent have national policies addressed climate change issues in relation to wetlands and promoted sustainable use of wetlands?
• What is the role of wetlands in regional and subcontinental climate?
We seek contributions from all over areas of the world that can address holistic or partially the questions indicated above in a bid to promote an understanding of wetlands and climate change without losing focus on the conservation and management of these ecosystems. Case studies are also welcomed.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.