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A Modeling Framework to Understand the coupling of Food, Energy, and Water in the Teleconnected Corn and Cotton Belts

The resilience of U.S. agriculture is significantly impacted by increasing climate extremes, growing population demands, and evolving land use. This project will develop, evaluate, and apply a model of the coupled Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) systems across the Corn and Cotton Belts of the Midwest, Southeast and Great Plains. The study will evaluate food crops currently grown in these Belts as well as the potential for growing bioenergy crops on marginal land.

Principal Investigators:

Sponsor(s):

University of Maryland

Abstract:

The resilience of U.S. agriculture is significantly impacted by increasing climate extremes, growing population demands, and evolving land use. This project will develop, evaluate, and apply a model of the coupled Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) systems across the Corn and Cotton Belts of the Midwest, Southeast and Great Plains. The study will evaluate food crops currently grown in these Belts as well as the potential for growing bioenergy crops on marginal land. The project will: (1) develop a FEW model framework that represents the coupled nature of food and bioenergy production and water and its responses to environmental forcings and human interventions; (2) enhance understanding of key feedback mechanisms within FEW systems; (3) determine potential thresholds in FEW systems that would indicate damage to the resilience of U.S. agriculture and water resources. The project will provide training for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in transdisciplinary research where cross-fertilization of ideas is central. Building upon existing partnerships with Minority-Serving Institutions, the project will also involve minority students through summer internships.

This project will integrate state-of-the-art knowledge and modeling across the climate, hydrologic, agronomic, biogeochemical, engineering, and economic sciences. The project will use this integrated model to evaluate the coupled nature of food and bioenergy production, water quantity and quality, and climate and hydrologic processes in response to environmental forcings and human interventions. This activity will advance the transdisciplinary science by building diverse systems knowledge to address critical issues of vulnerability, resilience and sustainability. Specifically, the project will develop a scale-dependent approach for coupling, predicting and applying the interactive water, carbon, and nitrogen cycle processes with agriculture, water resources, the biofuels industry and economic practices. This will enable the larger-scale impacts of external forcings (e.g., increasing climate extremes and population demands) to be directly coupled to the impacts of human interventions (e.g., infrastructure and management) and decision level information. It will improve the scientific basis for decisions in sustainable agricultural food and bioenergy practices, water resources management and pollution assessment, hydroengineering design, and adaptation and mitigation strategies.

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Articles produced by this research:

Liang, Xin-Zhong and Wu, You and Chambers, Robert G. and Schmoldt, Daniel L. and Gao, Wei and Liu, Chaoshun and Liu, Yan-An and Sun, Chao and Kennedy, Jennifer A.. “Determining climate effects on US total agricultural productivity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v.114, 2017. doi:10.1073/pnas.1615922114

Yang, Qichun and Zhang, Xuesong and Abraha, Michael and Del Grosso, Stephen and Robertson, G. P. and Chen, Jiquan. “Enhancing the soil and water assessment tool model for simulating N 2 O emissions of three agricultural systems,” Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, v.3, 2017. doi:10.1002/ehs2.1259

Zhang, Xuesong. “Simulating eroded soil organic carbon with the SWAT-C model,” Environmental modelling & software, v.102, 2018.

McCarl, Bruce A. and Yang, Yingqian and Schwabe, Kurt and Engel, Bernard A. and Mondal, Alam Hossain and Ringler, Claudia and Pistikopoulos, Efstratios N.. “Model Use in WEF Nexus Analysis: a Review of Issues,” Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports, v.4, 2017. doi:10.1007/s40518-017-0078-0

McCarl, Bruce A. and Yang, Yingqian and Srinivasan, Raghavan and Pistikopoulos, Efstratios N. and Mohtar, Rabi H.. “Data for WEF Nexus Analysis: a Review of Issues,” Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports, v.4, 2017. doi:10.1007/s40518-017-0083-3

Yang, Qichun and Zhang, Xuesong and Xu, Xingya and Asrar, Ghassem R.. “An Analysis of Terrestrial and Aquatic Environmental Controls of Riverine Dissolved Organic Carbon in the Conterminous United States,” Water, v.9, 2017. doi:10.3390/w9060383

Liang, Xin-Zhong and Sun, Chao and Zheng, Xiaohui and Dai, Yongjiu and Xu, Min and Choi, Hyun I. and Ling, Tiejun and Qiao, Fengxue and Kong, Xianghui and Bi, Xunqiang and Song, Lianchun and Wang, Fang. “CWRF performance at downscaling China climate characteristics,” Climate Dynamics, 2017. doi:10.1007/s00382-018-4257-5