Director Jessica Hellmann

RSRCH Environment, Inst on the
Office of VP for Research
Twin Cities
Project Title: 
Natural Resources, Climate Change, Ecosystem Services, Agricultural Sustainability, and Climate Change Adaptation

The work of researchers at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) covers a wide range of topics at the intersection of the environment, climate, and society. Some specific ongoing projects are:

  • Urban ecosystem services: Researchers at IonE have been developing a variety of models of how nature and green space provide benefits to residents in urban settings. These models include factors such as nighttime temperature moderation, water quality and quantity benefits, and recreational and mental health benefits. The team is assembling national (U.S.) data and a computational workflow to be able to run natural benefit analyses for any major city. 
  • Agricultural supply chains and environmental impact: Researchers at IonE have developed a model, FoodS3, which estimates county-to-county flows of grains, feed, animals, and processed meat through the chain of on-field production to processing plants to consumers. Along with data on environmental impacts, this model allows supply-chain specific accounting of the environmental footprint of cities, companies, or specific commodity groups.
  • Global land use efficiency: A team of IonE researchers, together with others from Applied Economics, Stanford, and the World Bank, have developed an assessment model that analyzes a country’s current land use and management relative to a best case “production possibility frontier,” which shows potential tradeoffs between a variety of environmental and economic metrics. This analysis has been applied to 150 countries globally, and is under development to improve the input data and underlying models. This work has been carried out at MSI by Dr. Peter Hawthorne
  • Food, energy, water and a sustainable Minnesota landscape: Multiple IonE projects concern different trajectories for Minnesota’s landscapes and the products and services it produces. Project aims include: better design agricultural incentives to be cost effective and robust to uncertainty about farmer behavior and biophysical processes, evaluate the potential for agrisolar developments to enhance natural benefits and rural economies, and develop scenarios for natural climate solutions to help Minnesota meet its carbon emissions goals.

Project Investigators

Nfamara K Dampha
James Gerber
Director Jessica Hellmann
Melissa Kenney
Diele Lobo
Research Associate Deepak Ray
Sarah Skikne
Nathaniel Springer
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