Skip to main content
Email Print Share


Water Sustainability and Climate  (WSC)  Crosscutting Programs

This program has been archived.
Name Dir/Div Name Dir/Div
Enriqueta  C. Barrera   Paul  Bishop  
Cheryl  Eavey   Bruce  Hamilton  
Robert  O'Connor   Thomas  Torgersen GEO/EAR 


Solicitation  11-551

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 17-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 30, 2017. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 17-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.




One of the most urgent challenges facing the world today is ensuring an adequate supply and quality of water in light of both burgeoning human needs and climate variability and change. Despite water's importance to life on Earth, there are major gaps in our basic understanding of water availability, quality and dynamics, and the impact of both a changing and variable climate, and human activity, on the water system.  The goal of the Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) solicitation is to understand and predict the interactions between the water system and climate change, land use (including agriculture, managed forest and rangeland systems), the built environment, and ecosystem function and services through place-based research and integrative models. Studies of the water system using models and/or observations at specific sites singly or in combination that allow for spatial and temporal extrapolation to other regions, as well as integration across the different processes in that system are encouraged, especially to the extent that they advance the development of theoretical frameworks and predictive understanding. Specific topics of interest include:

* Developing theoretical frameworks and models that incorporate the linkages and feedbacks among atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic, oceanic, and social processes that can be used to predict the potential impact of (1) climate variability and change, (2) land use and (3) human activity on water systems on decadal to centennial scales in order to provide a basis for adaptive management of water resources.

* Determining the inputs, outputs, and potential changes in water budgets and water quality in response to  (1)  climate variability and change, (2) land use and (3) human activity, and the effect of these changes on Biogeochemical cycles, water quality, long-term chemical transport and transformation, terrestrial, aquatic and coastal ecosystems, landscape evolution and human settlements and behavior.

* Determining how our built water systems and our governance systems can be made more reliable, resilient and sustainable to meet diverse and often conflicting needs, such as minimizing consumption of water for energy generation, industrial and agricultural/forest rangeland production and built environment requirements, reuse for both potable and non-potable needs, ecosystem protection, and flood control and storm water management.

This activity enables interagency cooperation on one of the most pressing problems of the millennium--water sustainability --how it is likely to affect our world, and how we can proactively plan for its consequences. It allows the partner agencies--National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Department of Agriculture  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) -to combine resources to identify and fund the most meritorious and highest-impact projects that support their respective missions, while eliminating duplication of effort and fostering collaboration between agencies and the investigators they support

Successful proposals are expected to study water systems in their entirety and to enable a new interdisciplinary paradigm in water research.  Proposals that do not broadly integrate across the biological sciences, geosciences, engineering, and social sciences may be returned without review.   Proposals may establish new observational sites or utilize existing sites and facilities already supported by NSF (National Science Foundation) or other federal and state agencies (e.g. USGS (US Geological Survey), USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) , USDA/ARS/FS (US Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Station/Forest Service), NOAA(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)). 

Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth's Surface, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2010

Hydrologic Science Priorities for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, An Initial Assessment, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. 1999

WATERS Network Science Plan

Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective. Circular 1331, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1331, 65p. 2009

GEO Vision Report (Water: Changing Perspectives)

2001 Water and Watersheds Progress Review

Transitions and Tipping Points in Complex Environmental Systems

NSF-EPA WATERS Workshop (May 2008)

Energy Demands On Water Resources: Report To Congress On The Interdependency Of Energy And Water

NAE Grand Challenges (March 1, 2009 Summit on the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges at Duke University)

WATERS Network Social/Behavioral/Economic Science Agenda Workshop Final Report

Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality Strategic Plan

NOAA Hydrology program Strategic Science Plan