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Press Release 14-109
NSF and NIFA award $25 million in grants for study of water sustainability and climate

Funding will foster research on how Earth's water system is linked with climate change, land use, ecosystems

river flowing

Water: It runs through all our lives, and is less and less available across the globe.
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August 29, 2014

Almost 1.1 billion people worldwide live without access to fresh water; some 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation facilities.

One of the most urgent challenges facing the world today, scientists agree, is ensuring the adequate supply and quality of water in light of burgeoning human needs and climate variability and change.

Despite water's importance to life on Earth, there are major gaps in understanding water availability and quality, as well as the effects of a changing and variable climate, and of human activities, on the water system.

To help find new answers to one of the most pressing problems of the millennium, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have made 26 awards totaling $25 million in their joint Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) program. This year's awards are the third set in the program.

At NSF, WSC is supported by the Directorates for Geosciences; Engineering; and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

"Water is the lifeblood of Earth's environment," says Tom Torgersen, lead NSF WSC program officer. "Knowledge of the flow and function of water is paramount to understanding how humankind's activities interact with and alter our environment. The mounting pressures of population increases, land use changes, and climate change underscore the need to understand the role of water."

The WSC program's goal is to understand and predict interactions among Earth's water system and climate change, land use (including agriculture, managed forests, and rangeland systems), our "built environment," and ecosystems around the world.

"Agriculture in the United States is dependent on the availability and quality of water; however, a number of factors, including climate and the environment, could have a significant effect on our nation's water resources, which in turn has consequences for farmers, livestock producers, forest and rangeland managers, and rural economies," says Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA.

"These grants are critically important to our understanding of how the water system is affected by external factors, which ultimately helps farmers and rural communities prepare for future challenges."

WSC category 1 awards are made for small team synthesis, modeling, integration and assessment projects that use existing data or new measurements to study entire watersheds and groundwater sites. Both NSF and USDA/NIFA funds support this category.

WSC category 2 awards are for place-based modeling studies with new observations. NSF supports this category.

WSC category 3 awards support synthesis, modeling and integration grants that use only existing data to integrate and synthesize information across watershed and groundwater sites. Both NSF and USDA/NIFA fund this category.

Topics addressed by this year's awards include the effects of climate change on agriculture-water systems; water quality and supply in two tropical nations, Ecuador and China; effects of agricultural decision-making and adaptive management on food security; water sustainability in a snow-fed arid river system; land-use and hydrology in the Panama Canal watershed; and decision processes, climate change and water resources in the agricultural Midwest.

WSC is part of NSF's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) initiative.

NSF-USDA/NIFA 2014 WSC Awards

William Ball, Johns Hopkins University: WSC Category 3 Collaborative: Impacts of Climate Change on the Phenology of Linked Agriculture-Water Systems

Damian Brady, University of Maine: WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: Impacts of Climate Change on the Phenology of Linked Agriculture-Water Systems

Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, Cornell University: WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: Impacts of Climate Change on the Phenology of Linked Agriculture-Water Systems

Lisa Wainger, University of Maryland: WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: Impacts of Climate Change on the Phenology of Linked Agriculture-Water Systems

Gregory Characklis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: Designing Robust and Adaptive Water Management Strategies in Regions Transitioning from Abundance to Scarcity

Patrick Reed, Cornell University: WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: Designing Robust and Adaptive Water Management Strategies in Regions Transitioning from Abundance to Scarcity

Charles Vorosmarty, CUNY - Advanced Science Research Center: WSC-Category 3: A National Energy-Water System Assessment Framework (NEWS): Stage I Development

Justin Remais, Emory University: Analytical methods for estimating the joint climatological-social drivers of water quality and supply in contrasting tropical zones: Ecuador and China

William Horwath, University of California-Davis: WSC Category 3: Agricultural sensitivity to climate change and water resources interactions in the San Joaquin Valley, Calif. and system resilience offered by adaptation strategies

Upmanu Lall, Columbia University: WSC-Category 3 Collaborative: America's Water - The Changing Landscape of Risk, Competing Demands and Climate

Kelly Caylor, Princeton University: WSC-Category 2 Collaborative: Impacts of Agricultural Decision Making and Adaptive Management on Food Security

Tom Evans, Indiana University: WSC-Category 2 Collaborative: Impacts of Agricultural Decision Making and Adaptive Management on Food Security

Maureen McCarthy, University of Nevada, Reno: Water Sustainability in Snow-Fed Arid Land River System

Gregory Pohl, University of Nevada Desert Research Institute: Water Sustainability in Snow-Fed Arid Land River System

Fred Ogden, University of Wyoming: Collaborative Research: Planning And Land Management in Tropical Ecosystem: Complexities of land-use and hydrology coupling in the Panama Canal Watershed

Holly Barnard, University of Colorado at Boulder: Collaborative Research: Planning And Land Management in Tropical Ecosystem; Complexities of land-use and hydrology coupling in the Panama Canal Watershed

Eli Fenichel, Yale University: Collaborative Research: Planning And Land Management in Tropical Ecosystem; Complexities of land-use and hydrology coupling in the Panama Canal Watershed

Jefferson Hall, Smithsonian Institution: Collaborative Research: Planning And Land Management in Tropical Ecosystem; Complexities of land-use and hydrology coupling in the Panama Canal Watershed

Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt, University of Nebraska: WSC Category 1: Influence of Climate and Agricultural Clustering on Groundwater Contamination by Trace Organics

Mikhail Chester, Arizona State University: WSC-Category 1: Advancing Infrastructure and Institutional Resilience to Climate Change for Coupled Water-Energy Systems

Adam Ward, University of Iowa: WSC-Category 1: Decision Processes, Climate Change, and Water Resources in the Agricultural Midwest

Zachary Easton, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: WSC-Category 1 Collaborative Proposal: Coupled Multi-scale Economic, Hydrologic, and Estuarine Modeling to Assess Impacts of Climate Change on Water Quality Management

Raymond Najjar, Pennsylvania State University: WSC-Category 1 Collaborative Proposal: Coupled Multi-scale Economic, Hydrologic, and Estuarine Modeling to Assess Impacts of Climate Change on Water Quality Management

Ming Li, University of Maryland: WSC-Category 1 Collaborative Proposal: Coupled Multi-scale Economic, Hydrologic, and Estuarine Modeling to Assess Impacts of Climate Change on Water Quality Management

David Borrok, University of Louisiana at Lafayette: WSC-Category 1 Collaborative: A surface water management framework to counterbalance groundwater withdrawals in wetter regions of the U.S.

Ning Zhang, McNeese State University: WSC-Category 1 Collaborative: A Surface Water Management Framework to Counterbalance Groundwater Withdrawals in Wetter Regions of the U.S.

 

-NSF-

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

Related Websites
WSC 2012 Awards: How Is Earth's Water System Linked With Land Use, Climate Change and Ecosystems?: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=125434
WSC: Cry Me a River: Following a Watershed's Winding Path to Sustainability: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=123431&org=NSF
WSC 2010 Awards: NSF Awards Grants for Study of Water Sustainability and Climate: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=117819
WSC: Bark beetles change Rocky Mountain stream flows, affect water quality: http://nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=130951
WSC: Is white--or green--the new black in cities?: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=130712
WSC: Ghosts of Forests Past: Bark Beetles Kill Lodgepole Pines, Affecting Entire Watersheds: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=128398

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.

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water drop falling off a leaf
Water is the lifeblood of Earth's environment, say scientists, but it's a dwindling resource.
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irrigation system in a green field
The NSF-NIFA WSC awards address, among other topics, agriculture's dependence on water.
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mountain river flowing through a forest
WSC grantees will design water management strategies for regions with once-abundant water.
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view of apartment buildings roads and houses in a city
Through a WSC award, scientists will conduct research on water quality in China and Ecuador.
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workers walking at the Panama Canal gatun locks
WSC-funded researchers will study land-use and hydrology in the Panama Canal watershed.
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