Climate Change, Shifting Land Use, and Urbanization in a Midwestern Agricultural Landscape: Challenges for Water Quality and Quantity

Water dynamics are central in urbanizing agricultural watersheds where changing climate, human demands, agricultural practices, land use and other policies interact. How will ecosystem services vary and how can they be sustained in regional watersheds as climate, land use and land cover, the built environment and human demands change? We are addressing this question through a coordinated program of integrated scenarios, model experiments to assess effects of changing drivers on a broad set of ecosystem services, evaluations of governance and leverage points, outreach and public engagement, and information management. Our focus is the Yahara Watershed of Wisconsin, which is an exemplar of water-related issues in the Upper Midwest.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.  How do different patterns of land use, land cover, land management, and water resources engineering practices affect the resilience and sensitivity of ecosystem services under a changing climate?

2.  How can regional governance systems for water and land use be made more resilient and adaptive to meet diverse human needs?

3.  In what ways are regional human-environment systems resilient and in what ways are they vulnerable to potential changes in climate and water resources?