Atmospheric & Environmental Chemistry Seminar
"Water-Food-Climate Squeeze: Can We (Bio)Engineer Our Way Out?" with Praveen Kumar, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Providing water and food for a global population of nine billion under an uncertain and changing climate remains one of the most formidable challenges facing scientists, engineers, and social scientists alike. The inter-dependence of water, food and climate systems makes addressing such challenges very difficult due to complex trade-offs. Using simulations of whole canopy photosynthesis we show that it is possible to construct new whole plant architecture that increases crop productivity while at the same time reducing its water use. Additionally, it is also possible to reduce surface temperatures by increasing the albedo, that is, the fraction of sunlight reflected by the crop surface, through this architecture, thereby providing an offset to global warming. Since agriculture is the largest user of water, such solutions can provide a significant strategy for addressing emerging sustainability challenges. Such bio-engineering solutions offer the possibility of benign geo-engineering approaches by taking advantage of croplands across the global landscape that are already being modified year after year through new variety of seeds.
Speaker Bio: Praveen Kumar holds a B.Tech. (Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India 1987), M.S. (Iowa State University 1989), and Ph.D. (University of Minnesota 1993), all in civil engineering, and has been on the UIUC faculty since 1995. He is also an Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Atmospheric Science. His research focus is on complex hydrologic systems bridging across theory, modeling, and informatics. He presently serves as the Director of the NSF funded Critical Zone Observatory for Intensively Managed Landscapes, which is part of a national and international network. He is also a co-lead on two large NSF supported SEAD and Brown Dog projects for the development of cyber-infrastructure for structured and unstructured long- tail data, respectively. He has been an Associate of the Center for Advanced Studies, and two- times Fellow of the National Center for Super Computing Applications. He is an AGU Fellow and the recipient of the Xerox Award for Research, and Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising. From 2002-2008, he served as a founding Board member for CUAHSI, a consortium of over 110 universities for the advancement of hydrologic science. From 2009-2013 he served as the Editor-in- Chief of Water Resources Research, the leading journal in the field with about 500 published articles per year. Prior to that he also served as the Editor of Geophysical Research Letters, a leading journal for inter-disciplinary research. He presently serves as the intellectual leader and Program Advisor for a large effort in India aimed at capacity building through novel approach to research and international collaboration to address the most vexing water problems.
Host: Xinyu Chen