Understanding of complex interactions in multi-scalar environmental change and sustainability is a major research challenge in human environmental sciences.
This project extends the research frontier of sustainability science by developing scenario-based policy analysis, coupled with a gridded hydrological model, for the purpose of assisting farmers as well as watershed and forest managers in managing the complexity of coupled human and natural systems. The Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB), which produces approximately 52% of the nation's corn and 41% of the nation's soybean exports, is selected as the study area. A multidisciplinary team will collaborate to develop a spatially- explicit integrated model of both discrete (agent-based) human and continuous (stock-flow) environmental system dynamics intrinsic to land use change and consequences in the UMRB.
We will develop a three-decade (1985-2015) LCLUC dataset using Landsat TM imagery. The dataset, together with detailed climate data and demographic data, will be employed to calibrate an integrated land use model. The land use data and model outcomes will be coupled reflexively to a hydrological model for the purpose of ascertaining the availability of water resources. The integrated model will be used to simulate LCLUC over two more decades (2020-2040) using climate predictions under scenarios of adoption of different land use policies. Impacts of different land use policies on regional water vulnerability and sustainability of human livelihoods will be investigated with this integrated modeling system. The results from the proposed research will provide critical information for scientific understanding of sustainability, vulnerability, and resilience of land systems and their uses.
The project’s principal investigator is Le Wang, PhD, Professor in the Department of Geography, and National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. Co-principal investigators are: Susan Clark, PhD, Research Scientist at RENEW, Jessica Cao, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, and Zhenduo Zhu, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering