SAGE is active in assessing how historical and future changes in climate impact energy use, air quality, water availability and quality, soils, land use, agricultural production and land-use decision-making, natural vegetation distributions, the urban environment, as well as public health. Furthermore, we are also studying how land cover and land use changes at local to regional scales can influence the climate system. A portion of our effort focuses on building and testing computer models of the Earth's atmosphere, ecosystems, watersheds, and their interactions with the climate system, as well as use of remote sensing information from space. These activities are helping to support decision-making at the state, national, and international levels related to the wide-ranging impacts of climate change to life on our planet. Climate research activities at SAGE tie closely to the Center for Climatic Research, the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, the Energy Institute, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison.
SAGE is also excited to launch the 2012 edition of our innovation competition. For the past three years, the Climate Leadership Challenge (CLC) has engaged students from across the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a solutions-oriented perspective on sustainability. The new "v. 2.0" of the competition aims to engage more students, strengthen the culture of environmental problem solving, and generate even more world-changing ideas! With these goals in mind, the 2012 competition has been renamed the Global Stewards Sustainability Prize (GSSP)! The GSSP is supported through a generous grant from the Global Stewards Society John F. & Mary Cooper; Gary & Ellora Cooper; Christine Cooper; John & Mary K. Noreika; Peter Vogel, Vogel Brothers Building Company; David Beck-Engel, J.H. Findorff & Son; Scott J. Reppert, Superior Health Linens.
Dr. Holly Gibbs is an expert on land use and climate, including quantifying the carbon stored in tropical forests, connecting science and international climate policy, and assessing the climate impacts of biofuels.
Dr. Tracey Holloway examines links between climate, chemistry, and energy, with a focus on potential changes in air quality due to climate variability and long-term climate change.
Dr. Chris Kucharik and his group focus on integrating field observations, climate datasets, and numerical models of natural and managed ecosystems to better understand the influence of changing climate on ecosystem services as well as how land management can impact local to regional climate regimes. He is currently serving on the Science Council of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI).
Dr. Greg Nemet, hired under the Energy Systems and Policy Cluster, evaluates policies to promote energy technology innovation and a range environmental/energy policy issues. He is active in the EAP Certificate program, and teaches energy policy classes in the LaFollette School of Public Policy and the Nelson Institute.
Dr. Mutlu Ozdogan examines the interrelationships between climate, land-use, water use, and agricultural productivity in arid and semi-arid regions.
Dr. Jonathan Patz studies pulic health risks of climate change, from heat waves and air pollution to water- and vctor-borne diseases.
Dr. Annemarie Schneider investigates global and regional climate change through the lens of urbanization, with a range of cross-disciplinary projects aimed at understanding the human dimensions of environmental change.
Students & Post-Docs
Assessing Carbon Neutrality and Ecology of Different Biofuel Cropping Systems in the Midwest U.S.
Choosing a Portfolio of Technology Policies in an Uncertain World (Nemet) This project aims to provide a framework for designing a portfolio of technology policies to address climate change. The researchers model the effects of combinations of policy instruments on a portfolio of technologies, when both the outcomes of the technology policies and the effects of climate change are uncertain. The project evaluates combinations of three policy instruments: government funded R&D; subsidies for demand; and carbon prices.http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0962100
Climate, Energy, and Air Quality With funding from the National Institutes of Health, Jonathan Patz, Tracey Holloway, and Paul Meier are quantifying the impact of climate change on electricity demand, air quality, and public health, focused on ground-level ozone and particulate matter. Work is performed by coupling advanced models of climate, energy, air quality, and health. Currently the team has one manuscript in review (M. Harkey and T. Holloway, Journal of Geophysical Research--Atmospheres) and more papers in preparation
Climate change impacts on populations in urban/rural areas - Schneider and collaborator Katherine Curtis (Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, Center for Demography and Ecology) investigate the role of spatial variability in time-correlated climate and population projections across urban/rural areas. This project focuses specifically on connecting sea-level rise predictions along the U.S. coast to county-level projections of population size, age structure, racial and economic composition, and migration patterns in order to better understand the social, economic and political ramifications of climate change.
Climate Change, Shifting Land Use, and Urbanization in a Midwestern Agricultural Landscape: Challenges for Water Quality and Quantity
Climate and Management Drivers of Agricultural Productivity in Eastern Mediterranean Ozdogan is investigating the role of local management (fertilizer use, better seeds) versus global atmospheric teleconnections (North Atlantic Oscillation) on cereal productivity in Turkey and the Middle East using empirical evidence and Agro-IBIS, an advanced ecosystem model.
Climate Change Health Impacts in the Great Lakes Region Drs. Patz and Holloway are collaborating with Dr. Steve Vavrus, Center for Climatic Research, Nelson Institute on this project. This EPA-sponsored project Health Risks from Climate Variability and Change in the Upper Midwest: a Place-based Assessment of Climate-related Morbidity primarily addresses the risks of heat-related illness and water contamination from extreme precipitation for the state of Wisconsin. We also project mid-century risk scenarios for the region. This grant is in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, and will the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Global Land Conversions Pathways and ILUC Emissions from market-mediated land clearing in response to bioenergy mandates are significant and must be captured by policy to ensure climate benefits. Current estimates of emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC) are plagued with key uncertainties related to land use. Gibbs is tackling these uncertainties by creating the first Global Land Conversion Database (GLCD) by combining remote-sensing analyses on current agricultural expansion pathways with models of forest conversion probability as well as potentially available cropland. The GLCD will revolutionize methods used to estimate ILUC by helping to bring land into focus for global economic models. (Funded by the California Air Resources Board)
Impacts of Climate Change on Air Quality Holloway and students employ a range of models to quantify the response of ozone and other species to climate variability and change.
Impacts of Localized Urban Expansion on Climate Regulation Kucharik and Schneider are evaluating how urbanization directly impacts local to regional climate across agricultural regions by studying connections between land-use/land-cover and energy balance using an agro-ecosystem model (Agro-IBIS) driven with remotely sensed observations and climate data at high resolution.
Impacts of potato and maize management and climate change on groundwater recharge across the Central Sands Kucharik and graduate student Mallika Nocco are collaborating with colleagues at UW-Madison (Prof. Steve Loheide) and UW-Stevens Point (Prof. George Kraft) on the impact of land management and climate change on hydrology in the Central Sands Region of Wisconsin. Their proposed research will increase the understanding of the impacts of the aforementioned factors on groundwater recharge and inform policy and water management discussions concerning the Central Sands region. We will quantify net groundwater recharge of two important Central Sands agroecosystems, maize and potato, and conduct both field and modeling experiments to assess the cumulative impacts of irrigation pumping. The specific objectives include the following: (1) Utilize newly available vadose zone instrumentation and other biophysical measurements to quantify groundwater recharge and understand hydrogeological responses associated with crop type, irrigation, tillage, and cover crops; (2) Develop, parameterize, and validate potato and maize crop functional types in the Agro-IBIS agroecosystem model to link groundwater recharge to aboveground processes; (3) To understand how cumulative changes in climate and land management have impacted groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration over the past 60 years, we will drive Agro-IBIS using a new, high resolution historical daily climate dataset (1948-2010) and varied land management scenarios. [Funded by WI Department of Natural Resources]
Impacts of regional land cover change on atmospheric boundary layer properties in global agricultural regions (Desai)
Investigating the Relationship Between Land Use/Land Cover Change, Hydrologic Cycle, and Climate in Semi-Arid Central Asia In collaboration with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in PRC, Ozdogan and his students are processing satellite data to map changes in agricultural area, implementing a simple evapotranspiration model, and testing a groundwater model specifically suited for predicting the locations of recharge and discharge areas in semi-arid Central Asia.
Mapping the World's Potentially Available Cropland We may be facing a growing land scarcity as mounting demands to feed and fuel the world compete with efforts to conserve forests. Many politicians and conservationists alike point to an abundance of degraded land but often fail the realize that these lands often have significant constraints such as low productivity, used by marginalized communities, or could be restored to their natural state to provide key ecosystem services. Gibbs is mapping the worlds potentially available cropland, including degraded lands, at the global scale and documenting the challenges and opportunities for use. In addition, we have a case study focussed on oil palm on degraded pastures in Brazil and imperata grasslands (alang alang) in Indonesia. Tyler Lark is also leading a detailed mapping study focussed on the United States. He is considering idle lands, cropland pastures, pastures, and grasslands as well as non-traditional sources such as turf grass, lawns and ditches in his search for additional cropland in the U.S. Next, Tyler will estimate the range of potential production increase scenarios in the U.S. His work provides key insights into indirect land use change from bioenergy mandates as well. Our results will provide needed inputs to project national and global agricultural production, constrain estimates of direct and indirect land use change, and inform agricultural and energy policy.
Monitoring the Water Cycle in the Arab Region Using NASA Satellite and Data Assimilating Model Technology As a Co-Investigator in a joint NASA-USAID project, Ozdogan aids the development of a Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS) for the Arab region. His specific role is to assemble an up-to-date database of irrigated area and crop types to drive a suite of advanced land surface models, with the goal of providing optimal estimates of hydrological states and fluxes relevant to water resources in the region.
Monitoring Urban Land Surface Properties for Global Climate Models Schneider collaborates with Professor Mark Friedl (Boston University) to develop and test a new global database of urban land cover characteristics (e.g. fractional amounts of built-up land, vegetation type and canopy coverage, and irrigation presence) by exploiting decision tree methods developed within the machine learning community and remotely sensed observations from moderate to coarse resolution sensors.
Quantifying carbon sequestration in Midwest US bioenergy cropping systems: scaling CO2 fluxes from leaf-level to landscapes
The Role of Irrigated Croplands in North American Hydroclimatic Regimes Ozdogan and his colleagues at NASA GSFC are quantifying the effects of cropland irrigation on water and energy cycle variables over North America. Funded by NOAA, the goal of this research is to investigate irrigation's influences on the land-atmosphere interactions at regional scales with an eye towards improved initialization of land surface moisture and energy states in numerical weather prediction models.
Bagley, J., Desai, A.R., West, P.C., and Foley, J.A. (2011). A simple, minimal parameter model for predicting the influence of changing land cover on the land-atmosphere system. Earth Interactions, in press, doi:10.1175/2011EI394.1.
Brodie, J.F. and H.K. Gibbs (2009). Bushmeat hunting as climate threat (commentary). Science 326: 364-365.
Gibbs, H.K. (2012). Trading forests for oil yields in the Peruvian Amazon. Environmental Research Letters. Invited Perspective.
Gibbs, H.K., S. Brown, J. O. Niles. J.A. Foley (2007). Monitoring and measuring tropical forest carbon stocks: Making REDD a reality. Environmental Research Letters 2(4): 045023.
Gibbs, H.K., M. Johnston, J. A. Foley, T. Holloway, C. Monfreda, N. Ramankutty, and D. Zaks (2008). Carbon payback times for crop-based biofuel expansion in the tropics: the effects of changing yield and technology. Environmental Research Letters 3 034001.
Nemet, G.F. and A. R. Brandt (forthcoming, 2012). "Willingness to pay for a climate backstop: liquid fuel producers and direct CO2 air capture." The Energy Journal 33(1): 53--82.
Rasmussen, D.M., Jr., T. Holloway, and G.F. Nemet (2011). Opportunities and challenges in assessing climate change impacts on wind energy a critical comparison of wind speed projections in California. Environmental Research Letters 6, 024008, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/6/2/024008 (Article)
Sacks, W.J. and C.J. Kucharik (2011). Trends in crop management and phenology in the U.S. Corn Belt, and impacts on yields, evapotranspiration, and energy balance. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2011.02.010 (Article)
West, P., H.K. Gibbs, J.A. Foley, C. Barford, and J. Wagner (2010). Trading carbon for food: global comparison of carbon storage vs. crop yields on agricultural land. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 107(46):19627-19632.