NREL science enables farmlands and the people that depend on them for food, fiber and livelihoods to thrive in a changing world.
Human civilization is intimately bound by its requirement for access to freshwater. Human populations are growing, increasing their demand for freshwater as the amount, timing, and location of essential freshwater resources are also changing. At the NREL we use a combination of cutting edge field studies, technology from satellites, and mathematical modeling to evaluate how the distribution of our freshwater resources are changing and the implications that has for human civilizations around the world. This includes trying to understand how large lake ecosystems support a diversity of human livelihoods, how reactive elements such as metals and nutrients move through watersheds, and how the frequency and intensity of snowfall and snowmelt is being altered by climate change. Our ability to understand this dynamic resource and how its use us will be one of the major societal challenges facing humans over the coming decade.