Skip to main content

A research agenda for the energy, water, land, and climate nexus

Abstract

In an area with as many connections as the energy, water, land, and climate nexus, it can be a challenge to identify the highest priority research opportunities. In collaboration with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), we undertook a process to isolate and rank a wide variety of potential research topics. Using several forms of Delphic processes, we engaged experts working on related topics to work with us to develop a short list of 15 priority research topics. We briefly describe the process we used, the challenges with developing topics that encompass all of the elements of the energy-water-land-climate (EWLC) nexus, and present the final list, which is intended to be a discussion starter rather than a definitive list. We found that it is relatively easy to identify research topics that touch one or two elements of the nexus, but difficult to identify ones that truly cover the nexus. Priorities identified by our participants in the process include improving policy and planning, understanding human behavior, enhancing data and modeling, managing risk, and understanding regional differences.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We use this permutation to describe the nexus rather than the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus to be consistent with the National Climate Assessment, the principal product of the USGCRP, our partner in this exercise.

References

  1. Alagh YK (2010) The food, water and energy interlinkages for sustainable development in India. South Asian Surv 17(1):159–178. doi:10.1177/097152311001700112

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bazilian M, Rogner H, Howells M, Hermann S, Arent D, Gielen D,…Yumkella KK (2011) Considering the energy, water and food nexus: towards an integrated modelling approach. Energ Policy, 39(12):7896-7906. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2011.09.039

  3. Bizikova L, Roy D, Swanson D, Venema HD, McCandless M (2013) The Water–Energy–Food Security Nexus: Towards a practical planning and decision-support framework forlandscape investment and risk management. Retrieved from http://www.iisd.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2013/wef_nexus_2013.pdf

  4. Brown TC, Foti R, Ramirez JA (2013) Projected freshwater withdrawals in the United States under a changing climate. Water Resour Res 49(3):1259–1276. doi:10.1002/wrcr.20076

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Dale VH, Efroymson RA, Kline KL (2011) The land use–climate change–energy nexus. Landsc Ecol 26:755–773. doi:10.1007/s10980-011-9606-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hibbard KT, Wilson K, Averyt R, Harriss R, Newmark S, Rose,… Tidwell V (2014) Ch. 10: Energy, Water, and Land Use. In Melillo JM, Richmond TTC, Yohe GW (eds) Climate change impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment (pp. 257-281): U.S. Global Change Research Program

  7. Hoff H (2011) Understanding the Nexus. Background Paper. Paper presented at the Bonn 2011 Conference: The Water, Energy, and Food Security Nexus., Bonn, Germany

  8. Howells M, Hermann S, Welsch M, Bazilian M, Segerstrom R, Alfstad T,…Ramma I (2013) Integrated analysis of climate change, land-use, energy and water strategies. Nature Clim Change 3(7):621-626. http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n7/abs/nclimate1789.html#supplementary-information

  9. Hussey K, Pittock J (2012) The energy-water nexus: managing the links between energy and water for a sustainable future. Ecol Soc 17(1):31. doi:10.5751/ES-04641-170131

    Google Scholar 

  10. Rasul G, Sharma B (2015) The nexus approach to water–energy–food security: an option for adaptation to climate change. Clim Pol. 1-21. doi:10.1080/14693062.2015.1029865

  11. Ringler C, Bhaduri A, Lawford R (2013) The nexus across water, energy, land and food (WELF): potential for improved resource use efficiency? Curr Opin Environ Sustain 5(6):617–624. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.11.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Skaggs R, Kathy Hibbard, Peter Frumhoff, Thomas Lowry, Richard Middleton, Ron Pate, …Vallario B (2012) Climate and energy-water-land system interactions: Technical Report to the U.S. Department of Energy in Support of the National Climate Assessment. Retrieved from

  13. SRES (2000) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul Faeth.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Faeth, P., Hanson, L. A research agenda for the energy, water, land, and climate nexus. J Environ Stud Sci 6, 123–126 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-016-0374-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Land
  • Food
  • Climate
  • Nexus
  • Research