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Departments & Programs


Food-water-energy nexus

The major systems of the Earth - water, energy, food, climate, carbon, nitrogen, etc. – are tightly interconnected. This means, for example, that a decision in the energy system has implications for climate and food, and conversely that a change in the food system has consequences for energy and climate. Decisions should therefore weigh tradeoffs throughout the Earth System. Yet beyond this general notion there remains much unclear about how specifically the components of the Earth System interact. We seek to advance this field of Earth System science by examining a series of questions related to how food interacts with other systems.


Related Recent Publications

(Note: for a regularly updated list of publications, see here)

Ravi, S., Lobell, D. B., & Field, C. B. (2014). Tradeoffs and Synergies between Biofuel Production and Large Solar Infrastructure in Deserts. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(5), 3021–3030.

Lobell, D. B., Baldos, U. L. C., & Hertel, T. W. (2013). Climate adaptation as mitigation: the case of agricultural investments. Environmental Research Letters, 8(1), 15012. Retrieved from

Campbell, J.E., Lobell, D.B., Genova, R.C., Zumkehr, A. and Field, C.B.,
2013. Seasonal energy storage using bioenergy production from abandoned
croplands. Environmental Research Letters, 8(3): 035012.

Georgescu, M., Lobell, D.B., Field, C.B., & Mahalov, A. (2013). Simulated hydroclimatic impacts of projected Brazilian sugarcane expansion. Geophysical Research Letters, 40, 1–6.

Lobell, D.B., U. Baldos, and T.W. Hertel. 2013. Climate adaptation as mitigation: the
case of agricultural investments,
Research Letters
, 8 015012 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015012

Loarie, S.R., Lobell, D.B., Asner, G.P., Mu, Q. and Field, C.B., 2011. Direct impacts on local climate of sugar-cane expansion in Brazil. Nature Clim. Change, 1(2): 105-109.

Georgescu, M., Lobell, D.B. and Field, C.B., 2011. Direct climate effects
of perennial bioenergy crops in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(11): 4307-4312.

Loarie, S.R., Lobell, D.B., Asner, G.P. and Field, C.B., 2011. Land-Cover
and Surface Water Change Drive Large Albedo Increases in South America. Earth Interactions, 15(7): 1-16.

Burney, J.A., Davis, S.J. and Lobell, D.B., 2010. Greenhouse gas mitigation by
agricultural intensification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(26): 12052.

Campbell, J. E., D.B. Lobell, Field, C. B. 2009. Greater transportation energy and GHG
offsets from bioelectricity than ethanol. Science10.1126/science.1168885


Project List

  1. How do agricultural investments affect global climate?
  2. How does biofuel crop expansion affect regional and global climate?
  3. How does irrigation affect regional and global climate?
  4. How does information technology affect nutrient management and nitrogen pollution?