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Award Abstract #1360415

WSC Category 3 Collaborative: Impacts of Climate Change on the Phenology of Linked Agriculture-Water Systems

Div Of Chem, Bioeng, Env, & Transp Sys
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Initial Amendment Date: July 7, 2014
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Latest Amendment Date: July 7, 2014
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Award Number: 1360415
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Bruce K. Hamilton
CBET Div Of Chem, Bioeng, Env, & Transp Sys
ENG Directorate For Engineering
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Start Date: September 1, 2014
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End Date: August 31, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $739,288.00
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Investigator(s): William Ball bball@jhu.edu (Principal Investigator)
Ciaran Harman (Co-Principal Investigator)
Zachary Easton (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD 21218-2608 (410)516-8668
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NSF Program(s): CR-Water Sustainability & Clim
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Program Reference Code(s): 021E
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Program Element Code(s): 7977


1360415 (Ball), 1360345 (Brady), 1360424 (Ortiz-Bobea), and 1360395 (Wainger). This research will create an integrated trans-disciplinary system of data-driven econometric and numerical simulation models to understand how farmers adapt to climate change and how these altered practices are processed through a watershed to affect downstream estuarine ecosystem health (e.g., water quality, hypoxia). The project approach involves simultaneous collaborative and integrated activities by three research teams: Economics and Policy, Watershed, and Estuary. The Economics and Policy Team includes agricultural and environmental economists, whose empirical models feed and constrain the simulation models that are to be developed and linked by the Watershed and Estuary Teams. The Chesapeake Water System (CWS) is used as the study site because of its rich and long-term record of data. Synthesis of these data with models will enable comparative analyses to reveal broad relationships between human and natural drivers and processes that extrapolate well to water systems worldwide. This research will advance knowledge of: 1) how climate changes influence the timing and type of agricultural practices; 2) how temporal and spatial scales of watershed models influence simulated effects on nutrient delivery; 3) how direct influences of climate change on ecosystems compare to indirect influences that cascade through the watershed; and 4) how alternative management policies - with different rules and incentives - affect farming behavior and thus ecologic health. The effort will also advance understanding of how best to link economic and policy modeling approaches and scales with those of watershed and estuary simulation, as related to maintaining water system sustainability under climate change. Agricultural models of farmer adaptation will empirically demonstrate how spatial and temporal distributions of practices are altered by climate change, allowing transformation of the modeling approach and improving the observational grounding of the models. Further, this work will advance ability to test policies aimed at managing nutrient emissions from agriculture by characterizing conditions at scales relevant for understanding adoption/compliance.

The Watershed Team will use process understanding - synthesized from data across multiple watersheds - to assess structural uncertainties in conventional models that are typically ignored in policy applications. The Estuary Team's data synthesis will search for climate-related shifts in timing and amounts of nutrient loading and use numerical simulation models to quantify effects on Bay health. The Economics and Policy Team will apply a novel state-contingent pollution-control approach that incorporates uncertainty. Through the development and linkage of these models, this project will help transform climate-change impact assessment and response, tackle basic knowledge gaps in the understanding of long-term sustainability of estuarine water systems, and develop new tools and understanding that are applicable to other water bodies influenced by agricultural land use. The areas of broader impact for this project include: 1) workforce recruitment and training; 2) transfer of tools and knowledge to environment management agencies; 3) enhanced public understanding and K-16 science education. In the first regard, the project will recruit, train and mentor 8-12 MS and PhD students toward careers in ecology, economics, hydrology, oceanography and engineering with foci on water quality, agricultural sustainability, environmental policy analysis, and climate change. Secondly, the team will continue to work very closely with investigators in USDA, USEPA, USGS, and other federal and state agencies working with the Chesapeake Bay Program to develop better integrated modeling tools for modeling support of environmental management. Interactions with the Bay management community will include regular meetings with collaborators, presentations of findings at CBP meetings and collaborative workshops. Thirdly, K-16 education will be improved through integration of products into a highly successful ongoing NSF COSEE program, including a new workshop for training 15 high school teachers.


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Harman, C.J.. "Time-variable transit time distributions and transport: Theory and application to storage-dependent transport of chloride in a watershed.," Water Resources Research, v.51, 2015, p. 1. 

Zhang, Q., D.C. Brady, W.R. Boynton, W.P. Ball. "Long-term trends of nutrients and sediment from the nontidal Chesapeake Watershed: An assessment of progress by river and season.," Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA), 2015, p. 1. 


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