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Urban form and composition of street canyons: A human-centric big data and deep learning approach

Various research applications require detailed metrics to describe the form and composition of cities at fine scales, but the parameter computation remains a challenge due to limited data availability, quality, and processing capabilities. We developed an innovative big data approach to derive street-level morphology and urban feature composition as experienced by a pedestrian from Google Street View (GSV) imagery.

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Sky View Factor footprints for urban climate modeling

Urban morphology is an important multidimensional variable to consider in climate modeling and observations, because it significantly drives the local and micro-scale climatic variability in cities. Urban form can be described through urban canopy parameters (UCPs) that resolve the spatial heterogeneity of cities by specifying the 3-dimensional geometry, arrangement, and materials of urban features.

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A boosted decision tree approach to shadow detection in scanning electron microscope (SEM) images for machine vision applications

Scanning electron microscopy is important across a wide range of machine vision applications, and the ability to detect shadows in images could provide an important tool for evaluating attributes of the surfaces being imaged, such as the presence of defects or particulate impurities. One example where the presence of shadows can be important is in the reconstruction of elevation maps from stereo-pair scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Advancing water science through community collaboration

The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) is an independent non-profit in the United States that is funded by the US National Science Foundation and overseen by a board of directors elected from university membership in the USA. In its mission statement, it sets out goals to support the community to advance water science and to improve societal well-being by developing, supporting, and operating research infrastructure, by improving access to data, information and models, by articulating priorities for community level water-related research and observations, by facilitating interactions among the diverse water research community, by promoting interdisciplinary education centered in water science, and by translating scientific advancements into effective tools for water management.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Improving the representation of hydrologic processes in Earth System Models

Many of the scientific and societal challenges in understanding and preparing for global environmental change rest upon our ability to understand and predict the water cycle change at large river basin, continent, and global scales. However, current large‐scale land models (as a component of Earth System Models, or ESMs) do not yet reflect the best hydrologic process understanding or utilize the large amount of hydrologic observations for model testing.

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In bold letters "NSF"

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.

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Betsy Bower advising a farmer in Indiana on his crops

Food Companies’ Sustainability Goals Hinge on Soil Health

This is the third season that Bowers has clients a part of a sustainable agriculture program. Company-linked agriculture sustainability programs have been sprouting up over the past few years, mainly in the US but also in Europe and China. Food brands such as Campbell, Kellogg, General Mills, and Mars Wrigley have sustainability targets and are using the initiatives to meet them.

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In bold letters "NSF"

A Comprehensive Multi-Scale Study of the Impact of Capillary-Held Water Films on Fluid Motion, Transport and Mass Transfer in the Unsaturated Zone

The knowledge resulting from the project could ultimately lead to improved models for a wide range of unsaturated phenomena important to practical hydrologic, agricultural, and environmental applications, including prediction of water infiltration into soils and flooding during heavy rainfalls, remediating polluted soils and groundwaters, and movement of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. When water drains out of a porous medium, films of water remain behind on solid grain surfaces.

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Social-ecological-technological solutions to waste reuse in food, energy, and water systems (ReFEWS)

In a changing world the systems we have traditionally relied on to deliver food, energy and water are now challenged by increasing risks of disruption from climate, extreme events and deteriorating infrastructure. However, advances in our ability to re-use materials and improve the efficiency of their transformation now allow us to develop innovative solutions toward an integrated production landscape for the food, energy and water system (FEWS).

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In bold letters "NSF"

Flexible Model Compositions and Visual Representations for Planning and Policy Decisions at the Sub-regional level of the food-energy-water nexus

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on the processes and interactions among food, energy, and water systems, or the so-called food-energy-water (FEW) nexus, and the resulting implications for sustainability, resilience, and security. Food represents agricultural trade and consumption and is a critical component of a region’s economy. Energy is required to supply and treat water for agriculture, municipal, and industrial uses, as well as to mechanize agricultural activities.

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Picture of sorghum

Get Ready to Eat Differently in a Warmer World

To wrap up a 10 part series in the affects of climate change, Ilima Loomis discusses the challenges our world will see from rising temperatures. Along with warmer days, crops will produce smaller yields, make up of soil will change and diseases and weeds will thrive with hotter weather.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Managing Energy, Water, and Information Flows for Sustainability across the Advanced Food Ecosystem

Faced with a growing population and a shrinking pool of natural resources, society faces an unprecedented challenge to provide a resilient food supply, made even more complex by vast inefficiencies and resulting food waste generated across the food supply chain. For the 40% of food that never reaches human consumption, the significant energy and water resources that went into its production are lost, and new environmental challenges emerge, such as greenhouse gases emissions from landfilling food waste, the conventional management practice in the US.

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In bold letters "NSF"

A University Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Science

The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) will build on its existing Water Data Center (WDC) facility to provide a range of services to the multidisciplinary water science community. Specifically, CUAHSI will offer training in instrumentation and host specialty conferences in field instrumentation and hydroinformatics.

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The National Science Foundation focuses on the Food-Energy-Water nexus

Training in Theory and Application of Cross-scale Resilience in Agriculturally Dominated Social Ecological Systems

This NRT program will focus on understanding aspects of resilience in water-stressed and energy-demanding agricultural landscapes and will utilize resilience and panarchy theory, adaptive management, novel sensing technologies and modeling, and policy interventions. Such interdisciplinary training is rare in graduate programs in the United States, but is vital to prepare the next generation of natural resource scientists, producers, managers, engineers, and policymakers so they may respond to the challenges created by increasing demands for diminishing and interconnected resources, and the need to maintain and build resilience in stressed watersheds. This NRT program will serve as the innovative foundation for a permanent interdisciplinary graduate program in the resilience of agro-ecosystems.

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The National Science Foundation focuses on the Food-Energy-Water nexus

Closing the Loop: An Integrated, Tunable, and Sustainable Management System for Improved Energy, Nutrient, and Water Recovery from Biowastes

Two key approaches to achieve sustainable phosphorus management are agriculture fertilization systems that more efficiently use phosphorous for plant growth and systems that recover phosphorus from food and animal wastes and from biowastes in contaminated water. Unfortunately, we do not have suitable recovery systems due to technological limitations and economic and infrastructure constraints. This project aims to develop an integrated and sustainable management structure that can simultaneously address the major technical challenges in biowaste management and agriculture fertilization systems. This management structure will enable recovery of phosphorous, energy, and water, thus increasing resource use efficiency and providing a new source of phosphorus for agricultural food production.

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The National Science Foundation focuses on the Food-Energy-Water nexus

Critical Nutrient Recovery and Reuse: Nitrogen and Phosphorus Recycling from Wastewaters as Struvite Fertilizer

There is an important opportunity for nutrient recovery and reuse rather than treatment and disposal. This project develops innovative engineering technology to recycle nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients as a high-value fertilizer, struvite, while also enabling energy-efficient wastewater treatment. The technology is developed within the context of an economic life cycle analysis. In terms of broadening participation, a stakeholder-driven workshop takes place yearly. In addition to lower energy use and increased nitrogen and phosphorus recycling, the benefits are cleaner water, healthier watersheds, and sustainable agricultural activities. Numerous undergraduate and graduate students receive training in an interdisciplinary context.

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The National Science Foundation focuses on the Food-Energy-Water nexus

Sustainable Agriculture in the Nexus of Food, Energy, Water and Nutrient on National and Global Scales

To meet the growing global demand for food and bioenergy, agricultural production must nearly double by 2050, placing additional pressures on land and water resources . . . This project will advance the knowledge in the food-energy-water system regarding sustainable and resilient agricultural production on national to global scales, while providing timely inputs to ongoing changes in national policies regarding agriculture, trade, environment, and national security.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Coupling Infrastructure Improvements to Food-Energy-Water System Dynamics in Small Cold Region Communities: MicroFEWs

While introducing renewable energy infrastructure to the local microgrid in such communities could potentially enhance energy security by reducing their dependence upon imported fossil fuels, this introduction could also adversely impact the stability of the microgrids themselves or variably impact the linked infrastructure and processes contributing to food and water security. In pursuing a comprehensive approach that directly engages community stakeholders as well as researchers, the work seeks to ensure that any impacts to food, energy, and water security imposed by introducing renewable energy generation infrastructure to Arctic and Subarctic communities are universally positive.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Cyber-Based Decision Support Strategies to Achieve Consensus for FEW System Sustainability Using Incentive and Policy Structures

Farmers fertilize fields to maximize crop yield for both food and biofuel production, but a mismatch in timing between periods of high drainage water flux and nitrogen movement in early spring and crop uptake in the summer, results in excess nitrogen being transported through waterways to the Gulf of Mexico, causing detrimental environmental, societal and economic impacts. Driving much of the decision-making at local levels are policies and incentives implemented at higher levels, and vice versa, with no real understanding of the potential unintended consequences. This project aims to enable understanding of the impact of such policies and incentives on separate stakeholders associated with Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) sectors, as well as overarching system stakeholders, such as the federal government. More importantly, the research has the potential to impact the ways in which decisions are made in and about FEW system so as to ensure resilience and sustainability.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Innovations for Sustainable Food, Energy, And Water Supplies In Intensively Cultivated Regions: Integrating Technologies, Data, And Human Behavior

Detailed computational models are being evaluated and applied for systems-level assessments of two innovations: developing novel approaches to influence beneficial land use, and accounting for energy and environmental impacts within food supply chains. Because of the importance of the project results on the local economy, outreach activities are targeted towards the rural community, policy makers, the general public, and local watershed planners. Although this project focuses on the Northern Corn Belt, the approaches used in the research could be adopted to achieve beneficial outcomes for food, energy, and water systems elsewhere.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Strategic FEW and Workforce Investments to Enhance Viability of Controlled Environment Agriculture in Metropolitan Areas

A systems modeling approach is being used to compare the economics and environmental effects of CEA versus field vegetable supply chains. This research project also evaluates novel systems to optimize economic benefits as well as water, energy, and other resource use efficiencies in CEA vegetable production. It fosters industry-research networks and workforce development programs to facilitate the acceptance, adoption, and continued improvement of viable CEA systems in metropolitan areas. Collectively, the project 1) Lays the groundwork for more sustainable FEW systems exemplified by CEA and vegetable production; 2) Provides knowledge and insights to enable informed decision making by policy makers, city planners, entrepreneurs, and current CEA operations; and 3) Develops education resources to train an appropriate workforce for a growing CEA industry.

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In bold letters "NSF"

Geophysical Characterization of a Karst Aquifer Using Dynamic Recharge Events

Karst aquifers are important water resources, providing water for up to a quarter of the world’s population. These aquifers are complex hydrogeologic systems, where flow and transport predominantly occur through preferential flow paths or conduits that range in size from cm-scale openings to passages much larger than required for human access (caves). Despite their hydrologic importance, the location of karst conduits and characteristics of the larger aquifer are typically poorly constrained. To address these problems, we will monitor recharge-induced responses that arise as water flows into the subsurface in a karst aquifer in Florida using geophysical instrumentation to characterize the conduits, subsurface flow, and the larger karst system.

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