/ Modified sep 8, 2016 12:58 p.m.

Mapping the Intersection of Food, Energy and Water

NAU professor's research aimed at helping communities head off future crises related to water scarcity.

Pecan orchard Sahuarita Farmers Investment Co. pecan orchards at Sahuarita, south of Tucson (PHOTO: Courtesy FICO website)
By Laurel Morales, Fronteras Desk

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The National Science Foundation has awarded a new Northern Arizona University professor $3 million to map food, energy and water supplies and show how they relate - research intended to help communities deal with water scarcity issues.

Benjamin Ruddell will use the grant to create what he calls “mesoscale data fusion.” It will be the first detailed map showing how food and energy production and the water supply affect one another. Ruddell will build on research that shows how vulnerable and resilient each community in the U.S. is to drought.

Ruddell plans to map out regional trade, river basins, aquifers, crop belts, states, tribes, counties, cities, power grids, climate gradients and show how they are all interconnected.

He expects the map will be used to inform future policies and spur new technology. Ruddell said, if we can look at how past droughts, wars or economic crises have affected food, energy and water we can anticipate the impact of future events.

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