This series has passed.

CUAHSI's 2019 Winter Cyberseminar Series:

The U.S. Food Energy and Water System at the Mesoscale

Host: Benjamin Ruddell, Northern Arizona University

The Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) system in the United States is characterized by connections at all scales, but especially by connections at the mesoscale defined by watersheds, cities, irrigation districts, and counties. At these scales transfers of water, flows of goods and services, and socio-economic gradients form the patterns that capture most of the structure in the complete FEW system. This cyberseminar series presents the current work on the mesoscale FEW system in the U.S., including studies of its network structure, its embedded resources and footprints, its boundaries, its stakeholders, its vulnerability and resilience dynamics, and emerging data products and best practices.

All talks take place on Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Dates, Speakers, and Topics:

  • February 6, 2019: Human Appropriated Net Primary Productivity in U.S. Agriculture | Chris Lant, Utah State University
  • February 13, 2019: Food flows between counties in the United States | Megan Konar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • February 20, 2019: Water Footprint Benchmarks for the United States | Landon Marston, Kansas State University
  • February 27, 2019: The Water Network of the United States | Tara Troy, Lehigh University
  • March 6, 2019: Multiplex analysis of U.S. water footprints | Alfonso Mejia and Susana Garcia, Pennsylvania State University
  • March 13, 2019: Resilience and Vulnerability analysis of the U.S. economy using commodity flows | Richard Rushforth, Northern Arizona University

Presentation Abstracts and Recordings

  • February 6, 2019: Chris Lant, Utah State University

    Human Appropriated Net Primary Productivity in U.S. Agriculture

    As the first in the FEWSION series, this presentation will begin by identifying objectives of food-energy-water systems models guiding by four key findings: (1) they engage ecological, carbon, water and nutrient cycles most powerfully among all human systems, (2) they operate primarily at a meso-scale best captured by counties, districts, and cities, (3) cities are hubs within the FEW system that (4) forms a complex network (see Lant et al 2018. Ambio doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1077-0).  The presentation will then provide a description of work in progress on a critical component in FEW systems: Human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP).  As a next-generation measure of ecological footprint, HANPP serves an analogous function as carbon and water footprints and, like virtual water, can similarly be linked with trade patterns in the form of embodied HANPP.  An example of an empirical analysis of HANPP will focus on U.S. crop production.

    View recording here.

  • February 13, 2019: Megan Konar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Food flows between counties in the United States

    Food consumption and production are separated in space through flows of food along complex supply chains. These food supply chains are critical to our food security, making it important to evaluate them. However, detailed spatial information on food flows is rare. To this end, we develop the Food Flow Model, a data-driven methodology to estimate spatially explicit food flows for subnational locations without data. The Food Flow Model integrates machine learning, network properties, production and consumption statistics, mass balance constraints, and linear programming. We use the Food Flow Model to infer food flows between counties within the United States. Specifically, we downscale empirical information on food flows between 132 Freight Analysis Framework (FAF) locations (17,292 potential links) to the 3,142 counties and county-equivalents of the United States (9,869,022 potential links). Subnational food flow estimates can be used to improve our understanding of vulnerabilities within a national food supply chain, determine critical infrastructures, and enable spatially detailed footprint assessments.

    View recording.

  • February 20, 2019: Landon Marston, Kansas State University

    Water Footprint Benchmarks for the United States

    Water is a fundamental input in a wide range of economic activities that support our way of life, ranging from the food we eat, the energy we use to power our homes, and the many consumer goods we purchase. Predicted population growth and an improved standard of living will necessitate greater economic production, which will place additional strain on critical water resources. Realizing this, and acknowledging that many areas already face significant water stress and/or overexploitation, there have been persistent calls to reduce water use to more sustainable levels. One frequently proposed means to do this is to determine water footprint benchmarks based on the most efficient water users within each economic industry. These benchmarks can be used by a given industry, or for a given production process, to guide toward reasonable and more sustainable levels of water use. This solution elicits an obvious and, until now, unanswered question: for a given industry, what is considered a ‘reasonable’ use of water? Here, we answer this question using a new water footprint database that provides industry-level detail (over 500 industries and products) and spatially explicit water withdrawal and consumption estimates per unit of production for the United States. We set water use benchmarks for each industry based on water-use efficiency levels achieved by others in the industry facing similar constraints. In doing so, we highlight specific industries and locations in the United States that could significantly reduce their water footprint by utilizing existing water management strategies and technologies.

    View recording.

  • February 27, 2019: Tara Troy, Lehigh University

    The Water Network of the United States

    Quantifying the food-energy-water network in the United States and its dynamics is critical to plan for a resilient, sustainable country in the coming decades. As part of a larger food-energy-water series, this webinar will focus on water and its links to food and energy over the contiguous US. We have assembled a water dataset that links the water available, with an emphasis on surface water, with water used for energy generation, food production, domestic use, and other commercial and industrial uses. Connecting the supply and demand allows for identification of counties and sectors that are heavily dependent on upstream water sources and/or vulnerable to upstream water use.

    No recording (Will be published later in the year).

  • March 6, 2019: Alfonso Mejia and Susana Garcia, Pennsylvania State University

    Multiplex analysis of U.S. water footprints

    Water is required to produce nearly every product we use or consume. The concept of virtual water content of a commodity represents the water embedded or virtually present throughout any production process. It provides a way of quantifying indirect water uses, creating awareness of the impacts of our patterns of production and consumption of goods, and our dependence on spatially distributed resources. Here we demonstrate how network theory and econometric modeling can be used to analyze the complex connectivity of virtual water flows associated with the production and consumption of agricultural and industrial commodities in the U.S. at the subnational level. In addition, we show a multilayer network approach to analyze the virtual water trade network for every sector of the economy. This approach, coupled with economic input-output theory, provides the opportunity to connect regions across space and across economic sectors. With this integrated view of the network, we demonstrate the quantification of water footprint accumulated throughout the full supply chain of commodities, and how this methodology can be used to analyze network dynamics and shocks.

    No recording (Will be published later in the year).

  • March 13, 2019: Richard Rushforth, Northern Arizona University

    Resilience and Vulnerability analysis of the U.S. economy using commodity flows

    How do we operationalize the information contained in commodity flow datasets to answer questions about the resilience and vulnerability of an area to a specific event? In this webinar, we will explore this question and its implications for interdependencies in food, energy, water systems. This webinar will first focus on the data contained in commodity flow datasets – What are these datasets? How are they compiled? After this introduction, we will discuss methods of coupling these data to water resources data and then discuss the types of resilience and vulnerability analysis possible with commodity flow data.

    No recording (Will be published later in the year).