Water, People & Ecosystems

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Today, more than four billion people live in regions that are threatened by water scarcity related to supply variability. Changes in the amount and timing of precipitation, combined with dynamic patterns of human water use and allocation, influence socio-environmental systems worldwide. At the same time, competing demands on water resources drive decisions about water allocation, including groundwater withdrawals, privatization, land-use and landscape changes, and water infrastructure management.

This Theme is specifically focused on the integration of data and the development of models (e.g., simulation, theoretical) to enhance our understanding of the relationships between the spatial and temporal variability of water, ecological systems, and human welfare or behavior and their implications for policy and practice.

Examples of research questions under this Theme might broadly include (but are in no way limited to):

  • Given changes in the timing and relative proportions of snowmelt and precipitation in many regions, how can water resource management systems and practices be dynamically adapted to support ecosystems and people?
  • How can the environmental and social impacts of water infrastructure projects be balanced at multiple scales?
  • Given the vast differences in the social, economic, and cultural characteristics of different regions, how can water governance arrangements meet the joint needs of ecosystems and humans?

Information on projects funded under this Theme can be found here.