Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Water, Energy and Climate Relationships in a Decision-Making Context

EPA Grant Number: FP917358
Title: Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Water, Energy and Climate Relationships in a Decision-Making Context
Investigators: Perrone, Debra
Institution: Vanderbilt University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2014
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Science & Technology for Sustainability: Green Energy/Natural Resources Production & Use


The main objectives of this project include: (1) identifying drivers of the water-energy nexus; (2) extracting information on historical and projected water-energy relationships; (3) highlighting potential climate change impacts on those relationships; (4) identifying patterns of demand-side competition for water; (5) creating a competitive water demand index to show demand-side stress on water; and (6) creating a decision-making and tradeoff-ranking tool for managers to assess competitive water demands, promote more effective management, increase efficiency and decrease consumption.


The basic premise for this dissertation is that spatial and temporal patterns that address a set of important questions about joint waterenergy use can be established using multivariate analyses. The study will take advantage of data on climate (e.g., temperature, precipitation and humidity), water use, electricity use and production, population, economic activity and land use. The proposed research is to mine existing data to as great a degree as possible and perform exploratory data analyses to reveal spatiotemporal interrelationships and trends. The study also intends to explore potential changes in the future based on scenarios of climate change and management options. This information will be used to create a competitive water index for demand-side management of U.S. water resources and a decision-making framework to assist water managers in ranking the utility of their tradeoffs.

Expected Results:

Anticipated results of this work include: (1) principal components that reveal how energy, water, climate and growth vary together; (2) clusters of variables and objects that reveal new spatiotemporal patterns important to the management of water and energy resources; (3) an understanding of how proposed climate change will impact or alter these interrelationships and patterns; (4) historic and forecasted competitive water demands; (5) a tool that incorporates multiple attributes to assist water managers in decision making and identifying tradeoffs; and (6) a sensitivity analysis to test the statistical precision of the results.

Potential to Further Environmental / Human Health Protection

The results of this dissertation work will support the national information needs for stakeholders to co-manage water and energy resources. The purpose of this research is to reduce the information bottleneck associated with environmental management to provide stakeholders with relevant and contextualized information about the interrelationships between water and energy. The risk analyses will allow stakeholders to prioritize their needs and consider tradeoffs in management.

Supplemental Keywords:

water-energy nexus, climate change, water resources, energy resources, exploratory data analysis, competitive water demands, resource management

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • Final