Food-Energy-Water System Typologies

Full Title

Characterizing FEW system typologies across the continental U.S. for informed FEW research


The food-energy-water (FEW) system framework has been increasingly applied to evaluate and improve the long-term sustainability of complex human-environmental systems. Impacts within these individual systems have been well-characterized in the U.S., but we lack a comprehensive understanding of how their connections and trade-offs vary over space and time, and how their connections are influenced by socio-economic, demographic, regulatory, and climatic factors. This research gap is due in part to the fact that FEW data sources are disparate and disconnected; beyond this, only limited work has addressed the social attributes and drivers of FEW system stresses. We propose to address these research gaps by synthesizing existing FEW data sets to establish and characterize typologies of FEW systems in the U.S., and then use the typologies to understand change points and subsequent drivers of change. These typologies will provide a roadmap for future research by revealing the principal FEW stresses and interactions across space and time and in response to social, economic, ecological and other drivers. We will engage an interdisciplinary team of approximately fourteen scientists at various career stages in this critical area of convergent research. We will progress towards our project objectives through a series of four meetings over two years, inviting practitioners to 2 of the 4 meetings to enhance typology usability. Our major outcomes include actionable data visualized and available through a Story Map of final FEW system typologies in addition to scientific papers and policy briefs.


Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Rebecca Muenich, Arizona State University
Rebecca Hale, Idaho State University
Carsten Prasse, Johns Hopkins University
Ryan Calder, Duke University
Marc Jeuland, Duke University
Morey Burnham, Idaho State University
Doug Jackson-Smith, Ohio State University
Caitlin Grady, Penn State University
Christine Kirchhoff, University of Connecticut
Shamitha Keerthi, The Nature Conservancy
Julian Reyes, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Southwest Climate Hub
Ashlynn Stillwell, University of Illinois

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