Water-Food-Energy Nexus

In the US, government policies promoting biofuels place food and energy production in direct competition for land resources. In some parts of the world, such as India, the agricultural sector uses energy to pump groundwater for irrigation. As groundwater levels decline and more energy is required to pump water, the energy grid becomes more stressed and brownouts occur.

Creating Synergistic Solutions to Leverage Resources

The CWC studies how the water, food, and energy sectors are interrelated and how climate affects the relationship. On the applied side, the CWC aims to promote water and energy savings in the agricultural sector in water-stressed farming regions. Work has been done with governments in India to reform existing energy subsidies by incentivizing electricity savings that save both water and energy without decreasing crop yields. The CWC also develops seasonal forecasts to guide decision-making in the water and energy sectors. We are pioneering the implementation of low-cost soil moisture and nitrogen sensors to improve irrigation efficiency and reduce fertilizer use and groundwater pollution. On the theoretical side, hydrologic models that include human activities, specifically crop growth and irrigation, have been developed to identify water-stressed regions and evaluate the role of climate variability on irrigation demands and water stress.

Selected Columbia Water Center Publications:

For additional relevant papers, click here. If you have any questions or would like to correspond with the Columbia Water Center on flood- or disaster-related research, please contact Katherine Alfredo.