A Systems Approach To Assess Trade Dependencies in U.S. Food–Energy–Water Nexus

Vora, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7359-6728, Fath, B. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9440-6842, & Khanna, V. (2019). A Systems Approach To Assess Trade Dependencies in U.S. Food–Energy–Water Nexus. Environmental Science & Technology 53 (18) 10941-10950. 10.1021/acs.est.8b07288.

[thumbnail of Manuscript_07.01.19_clean.pdf]
Manuscript_07.01.19_clean.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (1MB) | Preview


We present a network model of the United States (U.S.) interstate food transfers to analyze the trade dependency with respect to participating regions and embodied irrigation impacts from a food–energy–water (FEW) nexus perspective. To this end, we utilize systems analysis methods including the pointwise mutual information (PMI) measure to provide an indication of interdependencies by estimating probability of trade between states. PMI compares observed trade with a benchmark of what is statistically expected given the structure and flow in the network. This helps assess whether dependencies arising from empirically observed trade occur due to chance or preferential attachment. The implications of PMI values are demonstrated by using Texas as an example, the largest importer in the U.S. grain transfer network. We find that strong dependencies exist not only just with states (Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska) providing high volume of transfer to Texas but also with states that have comparatively lower trade (New Mexico). This is due to New Mexico’s reliance on Texas as an important revenue source compared to its other connections. For Texas, import interdependencies arise from geographical proximity to trade. As these states primarily rely on the commonly shared High Plains aquifer for irrigation, overreliance poses a risk for water shortage for food supply in Texas. PMI values also indicate the capacity to trade more (the states are less reliant on each other than expected), and therefore provide an indication of where the trade could be shifted to avoid groundwater scarcity. However, some of the identified states rely on GHG emission intensive fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline for irrigation, highlighting a potential tradeoff between crop water footprint and switching to lower emissions pumping fuels.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA)
Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 06:44
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:32
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/16082

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item