Michael Obersteiner's research while affiliated with University of Oxford and other places

Publications (385)

Article
Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is the first global goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Poverty eradication is a long-term process that faces many uncertainties and complex interactions with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to better understand poverty and contribute to addressing pover...
Article
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The development of detailed national pathways towards sustainable food and land systems aims to provide stakeholders with clarity on how long-term goals could be achieved and to reduce roadblocks in the way to making commitments. However, the inability to perfectly capture the relationships between all variables in a system and the unknown probabil...
Article
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Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) that increases the area of forest cover or bio-energy crops inherently competes for land with crop and livestock systems, compromising food security, or will encroach natural lands, compromising biodiversity. Mass deployment of these terrestrial CDR technologies to reverse climate change therefore cannot be achieved wit...
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p>In this article, the abstract has been revised such that “30% of the total CO<sub>2</sub> increase in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution” now reads “30% of the total CO<sub>2</sub> increase in the atmosphere, or 14% of total emissions, since the Industrial Revolution.” In addition, the second paragraph in the “Priority areas for resto...
Article
Progress to date toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has fallen short of expectations and is unlikely to fully meet 2030 targets. Past assessments have mostly focused on short- and medium-term evaluations, thus limiting the ability to explore the longer-term effects of systemic interactions with time lags and delay. Here we undertake gl...
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Spatially explicit information on forest management at a global scale is critical for understanding the status of forests, for planning sustainable forest management and restoration, and conservation activities. Here, we produce the first reference data set and a prototype of a globally consistent forest management map with high spatial detail on t...
Book
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GAR2022 explores how, around the world, structures are evolving to better address systemic risk. The report shows how governance systems can evolve to reflect the interconnected value of people, the planet and prosperity. www.undrr.org/gar2022
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Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient to boost crop yields, but P runoff can cause nutrient over-enrichment in agricultural watersheds and can lead to irreversible effects on aquatic ecosystems and their biodiversity. Lake Erie is one prominent example as this watershed has experienced multiple episodes of harmful algal blooms over the last decad...
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Traditional integrated modeling (IM) is based on developing and aggregating all relevant (sub)models and data into a single integrated linear programming (LP) model. Unfortunately, this approach is not applicable for IM under asymmetric information (ASI), i.e., when “private” information regarding sectoral/regional models is not available, or it ca...
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Terrestrial biosphere models typically use the biochemical model of Farquhar, von Caemmerer, and Berry (1980) to simulate photosynthesis, which requires accurate values of photosynthetic capacity of different biomes. However, data on tropical forests are sparse and highly variable due to the high species diversity, and it is still highly uncertain...
Article
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As the COVID‐19 virus spread over the world, governments restricted mobility to slow transmission. Public health measures had different intensities across European countries but all had significant impact on people's daily lives and economic activities, causing a drop of CO2 emissions of about 10% for the whole year 2020. Here, we analyze changes i...
Article
The concept of net-zero carbon emissions has emerged from physical climate science. However, it is operationalized through social, political and economic systems. We identify seven attributes of net zero, which are important to make it a successful framework for climate action. The seven attributes highlight the urgency of emission reductions, whic...
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Satisfying China’s food demand without harming the environment is one of the greatest sustainability challenges for the coming decades. Here we provide a comprehensive forward-looking assessment of the environmental impacts of China’s growing demand on the country itself and on its trading partners. We find that the increasing food demand, especial...
Preprint
Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is the first goal being targeted by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Poverty eradication is a long-term process that faces the challenges of many uncertainties and complex interactions with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to better understand poverty and cont...
Article
Full-text available
To meet the ambitious objectives of biodiversity and climate conventions, the international community requires clarity on how these objectives can be operationalized spatially and how multiple targets can be pursued concurrently. To support goal setting and the implementation of international strategies and action plans, spatial guidance is needed...
Article
Consistent information on the current elemental composition of vegetation at global scale and the variables that determine it is lacking. To fill this gap, we gathered a total of 30912 georeferenced records on woody plants foliar concentrations of N, P, and K from published databases, and produced global maps of foliar N, P and K concentrations fo...
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In tropical regions, widespread loss of native forest and savanna vegetation is increasing extreme heat, particularly in agricultural regions. Using the case of rising extreme heat from lost forest and savanna vegetation in Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado regions, we modeled losses to soy production, the region’s principal economic activity. We assess...
Technical Report
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The crucial roles of biodiversity in agriculture - a necessary understanding if agirculture is to become more sustainable.
Technical Report
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The linkages between agriculture and biodiversity - an imperative for understanding sustainable food production
Article
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While nitrogen inputs are crucial to agricultural production, excess nitrogen contributes to serious ecosystem damage and water pollution. Here, we investigate this trade-off using an integrated modelling framework. We quantify how different nitrogen mitigation options contribute to reconciling food security and compliance with regional nitrogen su...
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Scenario analysis has emerged as a key tool to analyze complex and uncertain future socio-ecological developments. However, currently existing global scenarios (narratives of how the world may develop) have neglected biological invasions, a major threat to biodiversity and the economy. Here, we use a novel participatory process to develop a diverse...
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The remaining carbon budget for limiting global warming to 1.5°C will likely be exhausted within this decade1,2. Carbon debt3 generated thereafter will need to be compensated by net negative emissions4. However, economic policy instruments to guarantee potentially very costly net carbon-dioxide removal (CDR) have not yet been devised. Here, we prop...
Preprint
Full-text available
Terrestrial biosphere models typically use the biochemical model of Farquhar, von Caemmerer and Berry (1980) to simulate photosynthesis, which requires accurate values of photosynthetic capacity of different biomes. However, data on tropical forests are sparse and highly variable due to the high species diversity, and it is still highly uncertain h...
Article
Soil phosphatase enzymes are produced by plant roots and microorganisms and play a key role in the cycling of phosphorus (P), an often‐limiting element in terrestrial ecosystems. The production of these enzymes in soil is the most important biological strategy for acquiring phosphate ions from organic molecules. Previous works showed how soil poten...
Article
Negative emission technologies underpin socioeconomic scenarios consistent with the Paris Agreement. Afforestation and bioenergy coupled with carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage are the main land negative emission technologies proposed, but the range of nature-based solutions is wider. Here we explore soil amendment with powdered basalt in nat...
Article
Industrial phosphorus (P) fertilizer has substantially improved global food production, but has also led to environmental impacts. Intensive global agricultural trade has increased and the impacts of trade on aggravating or alleviating future P scarcity must be examined, especially for the most vulnerable countries. We combined data to estimate the...
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Meeting Brazil’s ambitious national commitments on both climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation depends on securing its reserves of forest carbon and biodiversity. Brazil’s ‘Forest Code’ is a key tool to reconcile environmental preservation and agricultural production; it limits deforestation and requires forest restoration in illeg...
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Growing competition for land, water and energy call for global strategies ensuring affordable food production at minimum environmental impacts. Economic modelling studies suggest trade-off relationships between environmental sustainability and food prices. However, evidence based on empirical cost-functions supporting such trade-offs remains scarce...
Preprint
Full-text available
As the COVID-19 virus spread over the world, governments restricted mobility to slow transmission. Public health measures had different intensities across European countries but all had significant impact on peoples daily lives and economic activities, causing a drop of CO2 emissions of about 10% for the whole year 2020. Here, we analyze changes in...
Article
Studies on ecological stoichiometry (ES) have increased rapidly in number in recent years. Continuous exploration of classical concepts such as the growth-rate hypothesis (GRH), ), which is based on the relationship between the nitrogen:phosphorus (N:P) ratio of organisms and their growth-rate capacity, has identified new patterns and uncertainties...
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The global socio-economic and agricultural expansion is accompanied by large inputs of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) on land and by a serious alteration of the water cycle and water quality. The Mediterranean basin represents a paradigmatic region to study the entangled nutrient and water challenges because the region, where many of the world's c...
Chapter
Uncertainties, risks, and disequilibrium are pervasive characteristics of modern socio-economic, technological, and environmental systems involving interactions between humans, economics, technology and nature. The systems are characterized by interdependencies, discontinuities, endogenous risks and thresholds, requiring nonsmooth quantile-based pe...
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We present a comprehensive modelling framework aimed at quantifying the response of agricultural commodity prices to changes in their potential determinants. The problem of model uncertainty is assessed explicitly by concentrating on specification selection based on the quality of short‐term out‐of‐sample forecasts (one to twelve months ahead) for...
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The possibility of using the elemental compositions of species as a tool to identify species/genotype niche remains to be tested at a global scale. We investigated relationships between the foliar elemental compositions (elementomes) of trees at a global scale with phylogeny, climate, N deposition and soil traits. We analysed foliar N, P, K, Ca, Mg...
Preprint
Full-text available
Scenario analysis has emerged as a key tool to analyze complex and uncertain future socio-ecological developments. However, current global scenarios (narratives of how the world may develop) have neglected biological invasions, a major threat to biodiversity and the economy. We used a novel participatory process to develop a diverse set of global b...
Article
Full-text available
Critical imbalances and threshold exceedances can trigger a disruption in a network of interdependent systems. An insignificant-at-first-glance shock can induce systemic risks with cascading catastrophic impacts. Systemic risks challenge traditional risk assessment and management approaches. These risks are shaped by systemic interactions, risk exp...
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Grasslands absorb and release carbon dioxide (CO2), emit methane (CH4) from grazinglivestock, and emit nitrous oxide (N2O) from soils. Little is known about how thefluxesof these three greenhouse gases, from managed and natural grasslands worldwide, havecontributed to past climate change, or the roles of managed pastures versus natural grass-lands....
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Solar PV has seen a spectacular market development in recent years and has become a cost competitive source of electricity in many parts of the world. Yet, prospective observations show that the coronavirus pandemic could impact renewable energy projects, especially in the distributed market. Tracking and attributing the economic footprint of COVID...
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To respect the Paris agreement targeting a limitation of global warming below 2°C by 2100, and possibly below 1.5 °C, drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are mandatory but not sufficient. Large‐scale deployment of other climate mitigation strategies are also necessary. Among these, increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks is an import...
Preprint
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Progress to-date towards the ambitious global 2030 agenda for sustainable development has been limited, and upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic will further exacerbate the already significant challenges to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) achievement. Here, we undertake a model-based global integrated assessment to characterise alternative pathwa...
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Food system innovations will be instrumental to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, major innovation breakthroughs can trigger profound and disruptive changes, leading to simultaneous and interlinked reconfigurations of multiple parts of the global food system. The emergence of new technologies or social solutions, the...
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In recent years, the crop growth modeling community invested immense effort into high resolution global simulations estimating inter alia the impacts of projected climate change. The demand for computing resources in this context is high and expressed in processor core-years per one global simulation, implying several crops, management systems, and...
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Traditional agricultural extension services rely on extension workers, especially in countries with large agricultural areas. In order to increase adoption of sustainable agriculture, the recommendations given by such services must be adapted to local conditions and be provided in a timely manner. The AgroTutor mobile application was built to provi...
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Biodiversity is essential for the maintenance of ecosystem health and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the drivers of biodiversity loss and the spatial variation in their impacts are poorly understood. Here, we explore the spatial-temporal distributions of threatened and declining (“biodiversity-loss”) species and find that t...
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Regional monitoring, reporting and verification of soil organic carbon change occurring in managed cropland are indispensable to support carbon-related policies. Rapidly evolving gridded agronomic models can facilitate these efforts throughout Europe. However, their performance in modelling soil carbon dynamics at regional scale is yet unexplored....
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Extensive ecosystem restoration is increasingly seen as being central to conserving biodiversity1 and stabilizing the climate of the Earth2. Although ambitious national and global targets have been set, global priority areas that account for spatial variation in benefits and costs have yet to be identified. Here we develop and apply a multicriteria...
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Background: The quantity, quality, and type (e.g., animal and vegetable) of human food have been correlated with human health, although with some contradictory or neutral results. We aimed to shed light on this association by using the integrated data at country level. Methods: We correlated elemental (nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)) compositio...
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Increased efforts are required to prevent further losses to terrestrial biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it provides1,2. Ambitious targets have been proposed, such as reversing the declining trends in biodiversity³; however, just feeding the growing human population will make this a challenge⁴. Here we use an ensemble of land-use and bi...
Article
The global economy relies on a continuous and ever-growing throughput of biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and non-metallic minerals to build, maintain and fuel the infrastructure of cities and industrial systems. The amount of materials required year by year depends on population levels, the use of technologies in production systems, investment in...
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Emissions from land use and land cover change are a key component of the global carbon cycle. However, models are required to disentangle these emissions from the land carbon sink, as only the sum of both can be physically observed. Their assessment within the yearly community-wide effort known as the “Global Carbon Budget” remains a major difficul...
Article
Leaf‐level net photosynthesis (An) estimates and associated photosynthetic parameters are crucial for accurately parameterizing photosynthesis models. For tropical forests, such data are poorly available and collected at variable light conditions. To avoid over‐ or underestimation of modeled photosynthesis, it is critical to know at which photosynt...
Article
Future technologies and systemic innovation are critical for the profound transformation the food system needs. These innovations range from food production, land use and emissions, all the way to improved diets and waste management. Here, we identify these technologies, assess their readiness and propose eight action points that could accelerate t...
Preprint
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paragraph To meet the ambitious objectives of biodiversity and climate conventions, countries and the international community require clarity on how these objectives can be operationalized spatially, and multiple targets be pursued concurrently ¹ . To support governments and political conventions, spatial guidance is needed to identify which areas...
Preprint
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Despite the scientific consensus on the extinction crisis and its anthropogenic origin, the quantification of historical trends and of future scenarios of biodiversity and ecosystem services has been limited, due to the lack of inter-model comparisons and harmonized scenarios. Here, we present a multi-model analysis to assess the impacts of land-us...