Dr. Katrina Mullan awarded NSF Coupled Natural-Human Systems grant

Picture by Katrina Mullan of pasture and creek in Brazil

UM BRIDGES faculty member, Katrina Mullan, was recently awarded an NSF Coupled Natural-Human Systems grant. Mullan will lead a multi-disciplinary team studying the dynamic feedbacks between climate, water and land-use in a region of the Brazilian Amazon.

The team will model the regional hydroclimate with global climate change and regional land-use change, and downscale the model outputs to predict property-level “green” water, in the form of soil moisture, and “blue” water, in the form of surface or groundwater. They will also collect household-level survey data to understand how farmers respond to water stress and the consequences for their incomes, production practices, and deforestation decisions. The outcomes of the household analysis will inform an agent-based model of production and land use, which will be coupled to the climate model to project deforestation, agricultural incomes and water availability under alternative climate and policy scenarios.

“This is a great example of the food-water nexus because not only does deforestation for food production affect water availability, but the ways farmers respond and adapt to water scarcity determines food production and agricultural incomes” said Mullan.

According to Laurie Yung, UM BRIDGES Program Director, “Mullan’s project will help policy-makers in Amazonia conserve resources and promote sustainable livelihoods.  This project also provides an outstanding opportunity for UM students to build interdisciplinary research skills and conduct science with real world relevance.”