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The earth resources that feed and shelter populations are limited, coveted and precious. The ESS department researches the best practices such that future generations may enjoy the same benefits from the earth's ecosystems that we do today.

Research Groups

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Innovative policies and governance forms are needed to address competition for scarce resources in stressed urban food-water-energy systems. The FUSE consortium adopts an innovative two-stage Living Lab approach in which stakeholders: 1) produce solutions for future urban-FWEs challenges, 2) engage in participatory model building, and 3) examine the merits of proposed solutions. Detailed system models will quantify connections and feedbacks among users, producers, distribution mechanisms, and resources.

In arid regions throughout the world, water system security is at a tipping point due to a confluence of drivers that include severely limited water supplies, rapid population growth and demographic shifts, climate change and variability, transboundary competition for shared freshwater resources, and institutional dysfunction. The overarching challenge is to sustain the human-natural system in the presence of rapid environmental and socioeconomic change.

We study the interactions between food production, food security, and the environment using a range of modern tools. The work is motivated by questions such as: What investments are most effective at raising global crop yields, in order to increase food production without expansion of agricultural lands? Will yield gains be able to keep pace with global demand for crop products, given current levels of investment? And what direct or indirect effects will efforts to raise crop productivity have on other components of the Earth System, such as climate?

Our group studies biogeochemical and ecological processes in forest and agricultural systems. In particular, much of our research focuses on the effects of land use change and other human caused changes on biogeochemical processes and trace gas exchanges in tropical ecosystems. In the past, most of our work was at the interface between terrestrial ecology, soil science and atmospheric science.

This research group focuses on the environmental and equity dimensions of intensive food production. They have been involved in a number of field-level research projects throughout the world concerning issues of aquaculture and livestock production, high-input agricultural development, biotechnology, climate-induced yield variability, and food security.

The Water Resources and Hydrogeology Program falls under the umbrella of the Department of Earth System Science (ESS) within the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University.