Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Compelling Issues for Geophysical Research

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 3:10 PM
Masih Akhbari1, Neil S. Grigg2 and Reagan Waskom1, (1)Colorado State University, Colorado Water Institute, Fort Collins, CO, United States, (2)Colorado State University, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Fort Collins, CO, United States
The joint security of water, food, and energy systems is an urgent issue everywhere, and strong drivers of development and land use change, exacerbated by climate change, require new knowledge to achieve integrated solution using a nexus-based approach to assess inter-dependencies. Effective research-based decision support tools are essential to identify the major issues and interconnections to help in implementation of the nexus approach. The major needs are models and data to clearly and unambiguously present decision scenarios to local cooperative groups of farmers, electric energy generators and water officials for joint decisions. These can be developed by integrated models to link hydrology, land use, energy use, cropping simulation, and optimization with economic objectives and socio-physical constraints. The first step in modeling is to have a good conceptual model and then to get data. As the linking of models increases uncertainties, each one should be supplied with adequate data at suitable spatial and temporal resolutions. Most models are supplied with data by geophysical scientists, such as hydrologists, geologists, atmospheric scientists, soil scientists, and climatologists, among others. Outcomes of a recently-completed project to study the water-energy-food nexus will be explained to illuminate the model and data needs to inform future management actions across the nexus. The project included a workshop of experts from government, business, academia, and the non-profit sector who met to define and explain nexus interactions and needs. An example of the findings is that data inconsistencies among sectors create barriers to integrated planning. A nexus-based systems model is needed to outline sectoral inter-dependencies and identify data demands and gaps. Geophysical scientists can help to create this model and take leadership on designing data systems to facilitate sharing and enable integrated management.