Water and Biogeochemical Cycles

water and biogeochemical icon

Sustaining Life

Water is at the nexus of the energy-environment relationship, and water scarcity involves the inherent trade-offs between the production of food, goods, and services and the maintenance of natural ecosystems.

Flowing throughout the Earth

Water is essential to the health of people and communities, ecosystems, regional and national economies, and the security of nations, supporting personal health, food production, manufacturing, energy generation, recreation, and a spectrum of other socially-valued ecosystem services.

Likewise, the biogeochemical cycles, such as nutrients and carbon, which are circulated through water, terrestrial ecosystems, and the atmosphere are essential to our world's health.

Population growth, development, and environmental changes put increasing stresses on water resources throughout the world. The challenges of droughts, floods, and degraded water quality—which serve to underscore our dependence on a balanced quantity and adequate quality of water—exasperate population challenges. 

Additionally, changes to our ecosystem place stressors on biogeochemical cycles.

 Olivia Mroczko, graduate student in agricultural and biological engineering, is evaporating filtered wastewater samples with a nitrogen gas generator in the Natural Resources Engineering Water Quality Laboratory in the Agricultural Engineering Building. She will then analyze the filtered water for pharmaceuticals.
Olivia Mroczko, graduate student in agricultural and biological engineering, is evaporating filtered wastewater samples with a nitrogen gas generator in relation to a project that uses wastewater to detect Covid-19 outbreaks.

Water and Biogeochemical Cycles Research


Featured IEE Researchers

Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, Chemical Engineering
Evan Pugh University Professor and Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Featured News

Changing cropping systems in impaired watersheds can produce water quality gains

Growing the right crop in the right place within an impaired watershed can achieve significant water quality improvements, according to Penn State researchers, who conducted a novel study in the drainage of a Susquehanna River tributary in an agricultural area in southeastern Pennsylvania. The research may reveal a potential path for restoring the troubled Chesapeake Bay.

Mentions: Patrick Drohan, Heather Preisendanz, Tamie L. Veith

Growing Impact with Kirk French and climate change on the Hudson S1:E1

Kirk French talks about his newest project, "Climate Change on the Hudson: A Century After Nanook." In the discussion, Kirk talks about the importance of documenting climate change through film and how revisiting "Nanook of the North" empowered the Inuit to tell their story, even in the face of COVID.

Mentions: Kirk French, Andrew Carleton

'Windows of opportunity' crucial for cutting Chesapeake nutrient, sediment loads

The vast majority of nutrients and sediment washed into streams flowing into the Chesapeake Bay are picked up by deluges from severe storms that occur on relatively few days of the year. That is the conclusion of a new study led by Penn State researchers, who say it offers clues for cleaning up the impaired estuary.

Mentions: Heather Preisendanz, James Shortle

crashing ocean wave

Water Council

The Penn State Water Council is elected from the University’s more than 170 water faculty and staff and is responsible for working with the Director to set University-wide vision, establish and advance strategic initiatives, and enable and support transdisciplinary research, education, and outreach.

Meet the Water Council

Water Project Proposals in Development

Penn State Water has multiple proposals to bolster and broaden water research and education at the University.

Water Graduate Degree Program Proposal

Penn State Water Consortium Proposal