Sustainability in the Anthropocene: Telecoupling framework and its applications
Acta Geographica Sinica, 2020
SUN Jing, LIU Jianguo, YANG Xinjun, ZHAO Fuqiang, QIN Yuchu, YAO Yingying, WANG Fang, LUN Fei, WANG Jiejing, QIN Bo, LIU Tao, ZHANG Conglin, HUANG Baorong, CHENG Yeqing, SHI Jinlian, ZHANG Jinsong, TANG Huajun, YANG Peng and WU Wenbin
With increasing global integration, distant coupled human and natural systems have more interactions than ever before, which often lead to unexpected outcomes with profound implications for sustainability. The integrated framework of telecoupling (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) has been proposed to address such cross-border and cross-scale challenges, helping better evaluate and understand telecouplings. We first provide an introduction to the telecoupling framework, including components, definitions, and functions, and then offer an overview of the growing number of telecoupling studies. Particularly, we use three Chinese cases to illustrate the methods, results, significance, and implications of applying the telecoupling framework. We also point out some research gaps and critical unsolved questions in the applications. The telecoupling framework provides a powerful tool to incorporate feedbacks, trade-offs, and synergies across multiple coupled human and natural systems, and helps improve the understanding of distant interactions and the effectiveness of policies for socioeconomic and environmental sustainability across local to global levels.