Existing models of the nitrogen, carbon, and water cycles only provide detailed information on specific subsystems within the biosphere, overlooking the interconnected nature of these systems and the complexities this creates. Earth system models (EaSMs) couple these systems to provide a deeper analysis of these cycles, but are still limited. BioEarth was a research initiative led by WSU researchers Jennifer Adam, Brian Lamb, and Serena Chung and funded by a $3 million grant that aimed to develop a regional-scale EaSM through the integration of existing process-based models. This model provided regional-scale information on resource cycling and helped individuals make informed resource management decisions within the context of global change. Find out more about the BioEarth research initiative here.
One of the most difficult aspects of environmental graduate training is placing research conducted at local and regional scales in a global context and then communicating this information to policy makers and land managers. The Nitrogen Systems: Policy-oriented Integrated Research and Education (NSPIRE) began as an IGERT Program funded by the National Science Foundation, launching a multidisciplinary doctoral training program designed to create a new generation of scientists with broad and in-depth training in nitrogen cycling. While funding ended in early 2014, post-award NSPIRE activities are sustained. Students who participate in the NSPIRE program will be able to seamlessly integrate nitrogen cycle science for effective communication with key stakeholders. Find out more about the NSPIRE program here.
To develop scientifically sound and economically feasible public policy, researchers and the general public must work to understand the interactions between water resources, water quality, climate change, and human behavior in both agricultural and urban environments. The Watershed Integrated Systems Dynamics Modeling (WISDM) program was a multi-institutional team, supported by the USDA, working toward understanding how climate and land use changes impact water quality and quantity, determining which agricultural practices promote productivity and water conservation, and considering how changes in economic conditions and climate change affect water use. Overall, the team improved our understanding of water systems and explored how primary water users can be involved in the research process. Learn more about WISDM here.