HAPpy Hour Seminar - Food-Water Nexus: modeling and application studies in the North American food basket

Feb. 17, 2023

3:00 – 4:00 pm MST

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Zhe Zhang

Water is at the core of the North American food basket - it is the major production region for corn, soybean, and wheat in the world, and also home to extensive wetlands that support important ecosystem functions. However, this delicate system faces significant challenges from climate change and human disturbance. To effectively address these challenges, a comprehensive understanding, the use of innovative tools, and a holistic perspective are crucial.

The seminar focuses on two themes - water and food. In the first part, I will present a modeling study of prairie potholes - small, but numerous wetlands that are critical components of the hydrological cycle and habitat for waterfowl. This study focuses on the representation of the hydrological cycle and the interactions with atmosphere in the WRF-Noah-MP model. The results highlight the importance of including wetland processes for improved seasonal dynamics of surface water area, terrestrial water storage, and summertime temperature.

The second part will present a joint modeling study of dynamic crop growth and irrigation in the US cornbelt. This study aims to evaluate the model performance and address the uncertainties in simulated crop yield and irrigation water under current climate, as well as assess the impact of climate change via a Pseudo Global Warming (PGW) climate scenario. The PGW scenario imposed significant warming and drying signal during the growing season, profoundly decreasing crop yield and increasing irrigation demand. Finally, the seminar will conclude with an on-going work about a potential mitigation strategy for making the food-water system more resilient and sustainable.



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