Office of VP for Research
This is an interdisciplinary project aiming to connect agricultural, hydrological, economic, and ecological modeling in a computational framework to improve policy design for sustainable management of the Mississippi River Basin (MRB). One central problem in sustainability is that achieving the major goals requires large-scale action, but successful implementation also depends on cost-effective local decision-making. For example, it is estimated that reducing the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico will require states in the MRB to reduce nitrate loading by ~40%, but strategies to achieve this reduction in individual watersheds can vary in cost by many times, depending on how well they are targeted.
The aim of this project is to connect detailed local-scale modeling of biophysical processes with Basin-scale modeling of cumulative impact. These biophysical models are then paired with optimization analysis and economic and policy simulation so that we can perform policy efficacy analyses, or policy-level optimizations. These researchers are working on a prototype of this framework that covers the Minnesota River Basin and will develop the modeling and computational process at this scale (or further subbasins) as they gather the data needed to scale up to the full Mississippi Basin.