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CNH-L NSF: Feedbacks among land-use decision making, lake associations and water quality in lake catchments

NSF Coupled Natural and Human Systems / 2016-2018.
Water quality and human decision making are driven by dynamic interactions in lake catchments. (Figure credit: K. Cobourn)

Water quality and human decision making are driven by dynamic interactions in lake catchments. (Figure credit: K. Cobourn)

The goal of this project is to investigate human-natural feedbacks in lake systems by examining the linkages between land-use decision-making, water quality, and collective action taken by the public to protect water quality. Lake catchments are particularly useful units to assess these interactions. This project focuses on Lake Sunapee in NH, Lake Oneida in NY, and Lake Mendota in Wisconsin.

Human activities alter lake systems often by degrading water quality and other ecosystem services, often by affecting nutrient cycling due to agricultural, urban or other land-use management. In turn, these changes trigger feedback responses from the communities, affecting laws and regulations to protect and improve water quality. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of these interactions can help both stakeholders and policymakers address the challenge of preserving the environmental integrity of lake catchments.

Chris Duffy and Armen Kemanian (Penn State) are part of the team assessing nutrient and water cycling as affected by human management and natural forcings. For this purpose, will link hydrology, land, lake and socio-economic dynamic models to understand the interactions that drive, at least in part, the natural-human feedbacks affecting water quality in lake catchments.

The team includes researchers from Virginia Tech University (PIs Kelly Cobourn and Cayelan Carey), Penn State University, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Miami University, Fairfield University, Michigan State University and The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.  

The project is funded by a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program.