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Research // WEF Nexus Research Group

Global shifts in risks and the changes associated with water, energy, and food securities are the focus of the TAMU Water-Energy-Food Research Group. Special attention is paid to the interconnectedness of these three primary resource portfolios. The WEF Nexus builds on the integrated water resources management and introduces an holistic, transdisciplinary, inclusive multi-stakeholder platform for resource allocation.

The Nexus Tools Platform allows the identification of local and site specific tradeoffs and hotspots, which facilitate dialogue among stakeholders. From among those hotspots, the role of soils in global water and food security, and the vital function of soil as a structured, dynamic, natural, organized system and of green water to food and water securities is explored. The group focus is upon localization of resources, use of the nexus platform, improved utilization of greenwater, and better understating the impacts of water reuse on the soil–water ecosystem.

Objectives

The Texas A&M WEF Nexus Research Group works to identify the new tools that will provide societies and their policy makers with the information required for informed decision making in order to bridge the anticipated global water gap for the agricultural sector, where water use remains heaviest, and for the energy sector, which is intimately linked to water and food production.

Non-traditional water will be an essential part of addressing the challenge. Effective assessment tools to determine the potential and the feasibility of using non-traditional water require thermodynamic modeling and innovative, physical-based methodologies for green water accounting that enables quantification and modelling of the interconnected WEF systems; allow trade off analyses of these systems; account for externalities such as population growth, economic development, sustainability, climate change, etc.

The WEF Nexus Research Team has three primary objectives:

1) Develop and deploy Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus Analytic Platforms and Tools to provide a basis for sustainable resource management strategies, based upon quantification of the resource (water, energy, land, financial, societal) requirements:

  • quantify inter-linkages for the resources nexus
  • develop tradeoffs and protocols for their assessment
  • enable assessment of sustainability of water, energy and food systems
  • apply W-E-F scenarios across ecological and socio-economic zones
  • identify inter-linkages between energy, water, food systems
  • provide a dynamic model to enable decision-makers and stakeholders to systematically integrate policy preferences based upon comparative scenarios and their respective resource requirements.

For a prototype WEF Nexus Tool 2.0 can be accessed at: http://wefnexustool.org/login.php

2) Develop better thermodynamic modeling, including scalable models, for Green water accounting. Soil thermodynamics and soil structure are affected by local practices that are not currently integrated into hydrological processes at the landscape scale. Hydrologic models and tools are effective at providing the data needed for watershed level events, but, the thermodynamic state of the soil water medium constitutes the local physical conditions of development for all biological and geochemical processes within the soil medium. It is still not well defined and characterized. This situation limits modeling and coupling the different processes in the soil medium. Because these are thermodynamically linked to the soil water cycle, improved thermodynamic modelling will allow more effective accounting for green water resources.

A description of the model (Braudeau and Mohtar, 2014) is available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/E-EAFE2-120049111#.VMAQSEdOSSo.

The Theory Brochure is available at: Theory Brochure

3) Assess the feasibility of non-traditional water for irrigation and for helping to bridge the water gap: economic, technical, soil quality, health impact at the lab and field scales. Understanding the implications of soil property changes that result from repeated wastewater applications is essential. Reducing reliance on fresh water by allowing an additional safe, global water resource for food production is essential to our future water-food-energy security.

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