text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
News Archive
News by Research Area
Arctic & Antarctic
Astronomy & Space
Biology
Chemistry & Materials
Computing
Earth & Environment
Education
Engineering
Mathematics
Nanoscience
People & Society
Physics
 

Email this pagePrint this page


Press Release 10-194
NSF Awards Grants on Interactions Among the Environment, Economy and Society

Geoscientists and social scientists will study such topics as agriculturists in Zambia and lawn fertilization practices in the U.S.

Photo of agricultural area in southern Zambia with hills in background..

Agricultural areas are distributed among various topographic zones in southern Zambia.
Credit and Larger Version

October 19, 2010

Humans have contributed to widespread alterations in the environment. To understand these changes, make accurate predictions of their effects, and develop options for wise future choices, geoscientists need to work with social scientists to comprehend the links between the physical world and the social world, say Tim Killeen, National Science Foundation (NSF) assistant director for Geosciences, and Myron Gutmann, NSF assistant director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

Toward that end, NSF has funded seven awards under its Environment, Society and Economics (ESE) umbrella to foster collaboration among geoscientists and social scientists to address crucial issues for the environment, society and the economy--and how the three affect each other.

The awards will factor valuation of "ecosystem services"--what Earth's resources offer humans--into economic activities in a way that provides critically important information about land and water use.

The projects funded range from studies of agriculturalists in rural Zambia, to the development of models capturing lawn fertilization effects, to an analysis of stream restoration as both an environmental and a market-based strategy.

The grants involve scientists in fields from hydrology to economics, and geology to geography.

2010 ENVIRONMENT, SOCIETY AND ECONOMICS (ESE) AWARDS

Title: Spatial Interactive Optimization for Restoration of Upland Storage in Watersheds: Community Participation in the Design of Distributed Practices and Alternatives
PI (Principal Investigator)
: Meghna Babbar-Sebens, Indiana University-Bloomington
Summary: This project will focus on the design of upland-storage systems that involve the selection of sites, scales, structural changes, and agronomic practices for agricultural landscapes in degraded watersheds, thereby improving water quality and facilitating flood attenuation. The scientists will conduct research in the Eagle Creek watershed in northwestern Indianapolis, where they will integrate computational tools such as geographic information systems, simulation models, and optimization algorithms with community-participation approaches.

Title: The Emerging Commodity of Restored Streams: Science, Policy, and Economics in New Markets for Ecosystem Service Commodities
PI
: Martin Doyle, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Summary: This project will look at the application of science, policy, and markets at sites used for stream-mitigation banking using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. The researchers will combine field and modeling studies of hydrogeomorphic processes; interviews with scientists, regulators, and entrepreneurs; and historical and archival research to document and better understand the practice of stream mitigation banking.

Title: Spatial Resilience of Agriculturalists to Coupled Ecological and Hydrological Variability in Rural Zambia
PI
: Tom Evans, Indiana University-Bloomington; Kelly Caylor, Princeton University
Summary: This project will examine the resilience of small-scale landholders in Zambia to climate variability by examining the spatial patterns of water availability and agricultural decision-making. The researchers will focus on the coping strategies used by smallholders in different locations to survive periods of crop failure in a complex set of social and ecological conditions: varying precipitation patterns, surface topography, spatial distribution of land holdings, social norms within a community, and availability of food aid.

Title: Grasses and Gases: Modeling Human Dynamics of Lawn Fertilization and Resultant Nitrous Oxide Emissions
PI
: George Hornberger, Vanderbilt University
Summary: This project will examine household-level impacts in of nitrous oxide flows from fertilizer use, through a study of residential neighborhoods in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. The researchers will gather biophysical and socioeconomic data to identify physical processes and the types and levels of human activities that affect household nitrous oxide emissions, and will assess the values, beliefs, and norms associated with these human activities by conducting household surveys and focus groups.

Title: Modeling New Behaviors Emerging from Coupling Physical Coastal Processes and Coastal Economies
PI
: Brad Murray, Duke University; Dylan McNamara, University of North Carolina-Wilmington
Summary: This project will examine interactions among human activities and geophysical processes in coastal landscapes through the use of numerical modeling to address the coupled environmental and economic patterns that emerge under different decision-making regimes. The researchers will engage in data-analysis and modeling activities to identify relationships between property values and beach width, and to determine the beach-replenishment strategies with the most benefit to coastal communities.

Title: Climate Change and Variability and Armed Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa
PI
: John O'Loughlin, University of Colorado at Boulder; Arlene Laing, University Corporation For Atmospheric Research
Summary: This project will examine the potential for climate change to affect human migration, increase resource scarcities, and alter social, cultural, and political stability, thereby leading to increased armed conflict in African countries south of the Sahara. The investigators will analyze climate, land-use, socioeconomic, and violence data from a range of sources, and refine a predictive model of the coupled natural (climate) and social (violence) systems.

Title: An Experimental Economics Investigation of Groundwater Resource Dynamics
PI
: Jordan Suter, Oberlin College; Kent Messer, University of Delaware
Summary: This project will examine the feedbacks between human and natural systems and groundwater resources by using experimental economic techniques and hydrogeologic modeling. The researchers will conduct data-analysis and modeling activities to increase our understanding of human decision-making and the role of policy and psychology in sharing a common groundwater resource.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, cdybas@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

Illustration of city with skyscrapers separated from a lighthouse by sea.
NSF is supporting research on interactions among the environment, economy and society.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of agricultural land and savannah in Zambia with hills on horizon.
Water availability and land-use activities lead to complex patterns of vegetation in Zambia.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of a stream in a forest.
Scientists funded via ESE will study the "ecosystem services" provided by streams.
Credit and Larger Version

Researcher monitoring  lawn fertilization.
A "gasses and grasses" project looks at lawn fertilization practices.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of a researcher recording homeowner responses to questions on a tablet computer.
Homeowner responses to lawn fertilization questions are recorded on tablet computers.
Credit and Larger Version



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page