Water and Biogeochemical Cycles

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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 School of Public Policy, School of Public Policy
Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education

Featured News

Interdisciplinary projects awarded seed grants from IEE

The Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) has awarded seed grants to 22 groups of interdisciplinary researchers for the 2020-21 award cycle. This year, seed grants were awarded to proposals focusing on at least one of IEE’s five strategic research themes — Climate and Ecosystem Change, Health and the Environment, Integrated Energy Systems, Urban Systems, and Water and Biogeochemical Cycles.

Mentions: Bruce Logan, Seth Blumsack, Mary Ann Bruns, Peter Stempel, Klaus Keller, Alexander Klippel, Kristina Douglass, Gregory Jenkins, Shirley Clark, Lauren McPhillips, Hong Wu, Margaret Byron, John (Jay) Regan, Mallika Bose, Stephen Mainzer, Ute Poerschke, Lisa Iulo, Natasha Miles, Jennifer Baka, Kenneth Davis, Esther Obonyo, Wei Peng, Emily Pakhtigian, Hannah Wiseman, Randy L. Vander Wal, Andrew Kleit, Dave Yoxtheimer, Mohamed Badissy, Thomas Murphy, Linxiao Zhu, Alfonso Mejia, Daniel Brent, Charles Cole, Tom Richard

Artificial intelligence predicts river water quality with weather data

A Penn-State led team developed an artificial intelligence model to forecast water quality in remote rivers and streams, which could lead to a better understanding of how rivers are reacting to human disturbances and climate change.

Mentions: Li Li, Chaopeng Shen

Landscape shows earliest effects of modern humans using fire to shape ecosystem

New archaeological and paleoenvironmental evidence from Lake Malawi, Africa, shows that early modern humans used fire in a way that prevented regrowth of the region’s forests and created the sprawling bushland that exists today, according to researchers.

Mentions: Sarah Ivory

crashing ocean wave

Water Consortium

A new University-wide water initiative has been launched, called the Penn State Water Consortium, involving faculty and staff engaged in research, teaching, and outreach. The Consortium is currently in development. 

Penn State has a long and rich history of engaged, innovative, and impactful water and water-related research. This portfolio of work encompasses the natural, social, and health sciences, engineering, policy and law, communications, the arts, and more.

Learn More about the Water Consortium